Are Americans Too Fat Because We Eat And Drive?

May 12, 2011

In the realm of the only-partially ridiculous, FamilyCarGuide came across a story in Fast Company to the effect that we can blame driving for why we’re fat in America.

Really? You mean I – along with mega-millions of other drivers on the road – have to curtail our Starbucks lattes sipped on the highway en route to work or, perish the thought, forbid the kids from eating Big Macs and KFC and pizza just to keep them quiet while we go anywhere?

Back to the Fast Company article, it cites research done by the University of Illinois where they analyzed national statistics between 1985 and 2007 on vehicle use (measured in miles traveled) and somehow correlated that with annual obesity rates.  Researchers found a 99 percent correlation.

Now, I may be a skeptic, but I think this is just stretching things a bit too far (and I don’t mean the size of our national waistline). Sure, obesity is on the rise. So is the national debt. Is there any correlation there? We eat because things are bad. We eat because things are good. We eat because we’re hungry or not.

2011 Nissan Cube

2011 Nissan Cube

Enlarge Photo

Anyway, the other day when I was coming home from an errand after work, I saw two young teenagers in a brand-new 2011 Nissan Cube. Both the driver and passenger were eating some sticky ice-cream-like concoction, licking their fingers and laughing hilariously. They certainly weren’t paying attention on the road, since they nearly sideswiped my car.

Holy distracted driving. Oh, I didn’t get a good enough look – after I gave them a sound-off of the horn – to see if they were overweight or now. But, then again, they’re only teenagers. Hopefully the fact that they narrowly escaped an increase in the driver’s parent’s insurance premium will be warning enough.

One can only hope.

And, no, we're not picking on the Honda Odyssey in the lead photo nor the Nissan Cube mentioned earlier. But we don't have the rights to use a photo of anybody driving and eating, so these will have to do. And it's certainly not just teenagers who engage in this form of bad driving. Everybody, it seems, is guilty of the bad habit at one time or another.

But this gets to a question FamilyCarGuide would like reader comment on. Do you think eating and driving have anything to do with national obesity rates? Is this insane or what? Better yet, we’d love to hear your most outrageous eating and driving stories. Let us know in the comments section below.

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[Fast Company]

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