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Int J Obes (Lond). 2011 Sep;35(9):1216-24. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2010.270. Epub 2011 Jan 11.

Obesity and non-fatal motor vehicle crash injuries: sex difference effects.

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  • 1Injury Research Center, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI, USA.



Obesity and motor vehicle crash (MVC) injuries are two parallel epidemics in the United States. An important unanswered question is whether there are sex differences in the associations between the presence of obesity and non-fatal MVC injuries.


To further understand the association between obesity and non-fatal MVC injuries, particularly the sex differences in these relations.


We examined this question by analyzing data from the 2003 to 2007 National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS CDS). A total of 10,962 drivers who were aged 18 years or older and who survived frontal collision crashes were eligible for the study.


Male drivers experienced a lower rate of overall non-fatal MVC injuries than did female drivers (38.1 versus 52.2%), but experienced a higher rate of severe injuries (0.7 versus 0.2%). After adjusting for change in velocity (ΔV) during the crashes, obese male drivers showed a much higher risk (logistic coefficients of body mass index (BMI) for moderate, serious and severe injury are 0.0766, 0.1470 and 0.1792, respectively; all P<0.05) of non-fatal injuries than did non-obese male drivers and these risks increased with injury severity. Non-fatal injury risks were not found to be increased in obese female drivers. The association between obesity and risk of non-fatal injury was much stronger for male drivers than for female drivers.


The higher risk of non-fatal MVC injuries in obese male drivers might result from their different body shape and fat distribution compared with obese female drivers. Our findings should be considered for obesity reduction, traffic safety evaluation and vehicle design for obese male drivers and provide testable hypotheses for future studies.

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