Junk in the Trunk
American food-guzzling leads to more gas-guzzling
Here’s more motivation to go on that diet: You’ll use less gasoline. Non-commercial U.S. vehicles are using at least 938 million more gallons of gasoline annually than they did in 1960 because drivers and passengers are considerably heavier and are dragging down fuel economy, says a University of Illinois study to be published in The Engineering Economist. In 1960, the average adult female weighed 140 pounds and the average male weighed 166; in 2002, the averages were 164 and 191 respectively, and 62 percent of adults were considered overweight. That 938 million gallons is no shabby amount: It represents $2.8 billion if gas is selling for $3 a gallon, and could fuel some 1.7 million cars for a year, or feed the entire U.S. gasoline addiction for three days. “We had no idea the numbers would be this big,” said study coauthor Sheldon Jacobson, who calls using less fuel an “unexpected benefit” of losing that spare tire.