Obesity is the number one factor discouraging Americans from buying smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, according to a report by AOL Autos. Manufacturers have apparently being trying to get American motorists into smaller vehicles, but according to analysts, it's not worth the effort.

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The rate of overweight drivers in the country is climbing but unfortunately drivers aren't feeling safe or comfortable in small cars despite wanting to step into the greener segment. Such motorists apparently feel too big for the car which is making it hard to enjoy journeys.

Dan Cheng, vice president of business consulting firm AT Kearney in the US, said that even though petrol prices were climbing higher and higher, the only way to get motorists into smaller cars was to put the entire country on a diet.

The actual obesity rate is a bit hard to conclude as various statistics display the rates in different ways and have different thresholds as to what is considered obese. The Center for Disease Control in the US says self-reported obesity rates are around 26 percent of the population, but even that is higher than what it considers to be a safe rate of 15 percent.

According to Cheng, the "real" average obesity rate in the country is more like 40 percent, with statistics predicting a rise to 43 percent in 2018. Similarly, the percentage rate of large car purchases is also climbing. The number of motorists buying large utes, V6 and V8 SUVs and huge off-road wagons has been on the rise since the Seventies, according to the report.

Meanwhile, small cars only make up 22 percent of the market in the country, a figure which has dropped in the past two years from 28 percent partly thanks to the dramatic increase in petrol prices during 2008.

The only escape is the fact that large cars are becoming increasingly more fuel efficient. New rules have been put in place whereby manufacturers have agreed to reach a fleet average fuel consumption rating of 6.7L/100km by 2016, which is expected to force makers into bringing out significantly greener SUVs.