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WEDNESDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) — New research suggests that a few extra pounds can be good for you — if you’re male and unlucky enough to be in a car accident, that is. Moderately overweight males are more likely to survive serious car accidents than either the thin or the very fat. Apparently, a bit of extra padding — but not too much — provides extra protection, according to the study. The research suggests that there’s “a threshold, a cut-off point,” where overweight suddenly becomes dangerous instead of protective, noted study lead author Dr. Shankuan Zhu, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.For reasons that aren’t clear, women don’t get the same protection from extra weight: Being fat, thin or in-between didn’t affect their likelihood of dying in a car accident, the study found.Researchers have made similar links between weight and car accident fatality rates in the past, but the new study is the first to take a significant look at gender differences. The researchers examined reports of 22,107 accidents in the United States involving drivers aged 16 and older.

The study findings appeared online Wednesday and will be published in the April edition of the American Journal of Public Health. Overall, males were about twice as likely to die as females — 0.87 percent of them died in the accidents, compared to 0.43 percent of females.The researchers then looked at the connection between death rates and the body mass indexes (BMI) of the accident victims. BMI measures whether a person’s height and weight are proportionate, with a BMI of 30 being the statistical threshold for obesity. Fatalities among males became increasingly likely as their body mass indexes dipped below 22 (meaning they’re on the thin side) or above 35 (meaning they’re obese).The results suggest that a moderate layer of fat — such as that found in overweight but not obese people — provides a “cushioning” effect during a crash, Zhu said. But the cushion effect may vanish in males who are obese because their medical problems — such as cardiovascular diseases and high-blood pressure — could make them more vulnerable to dying from the effects of a crash, Zhu said.

The same might be true for thin males, who may have medical problems that exacerbate their ability to survive a crash, said Dr. Saman Arbabi, director of trauma surgery research at the University of Michigan. He co-authored a similar study that found nearly identical results. Why would body weight affect fatality rates in men but not in women? Arbabi suggested that it may have something to do with the physics of car accidents and the way that fat appears on the body. Overweight men tend to look like apples, with weight around their bellies, while overweight women look like pears, with fat around their hips and buttocks. These weight patterns may simply provide more protection for men, Arbabi said, adding that more research is needed to confirm that. For now, he said, men should realize there’s yet another reason to lose weight: while “love handles” might prove helpful in a crash, being too fat will be of no help at all.

Contact our Texas Accident Lawyers if you have ever experienced a personal injury and think others are at fault for the accident.

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Safety Seats, Not Seat Belts, Can Protect Children In An Accident
In a car crash, an infant secured in a safety seat has a far greater chance of survival compared to when buckled only in a seat belt. The current issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine presents a study comparing data from more than 9,200 crashes. A team of researchers said child restraint systems, like a safety seat, were more effective in protecting young children in a car crash-up.
The team chose to look beyond government safety evaluations and probe deeper for a better assessment of survival chances for young children between the age of two through six. They decided to pass up the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) census by the US Department of Transportation. The FARS data for fatal car crashes is not very helpful, the researchers said, because it makes no distinction between how the child occupants of the cars were secured to their seats. The government census assumes that there was no difference between how surviving children were secured in fatal crashes and in non-fatal crashes. The team preferred instead to examine the National Automative Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS CDS).
This source provided data for 7,813 fatal and 1,433 non-fatal crashes. The results indicate a link between child safety seats and a 21 percent lower risk of death, when compared with the benefit of seat belts. These included cases where the safety seats were improperly used, which meant the actual risk of death was even lower at 28 percent. The team said efforts must continue to promote the usage of child safety seats through educational programs and improved laws.

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