Reuters reports cars in the US are burning nearly one billion gallons (3.8 billion litres) of fuel per year more than they would if their occupants weighed what the average person did in 1960, as the extra body weight increases their car’s fuel consumption.
The damage to the hip pocket has been compounded both by an increased number of people becoming overweight or obese and rising fuel prices, which are currently nearing US$4 a gallon.
According to The Atlantic, for each extra pound of passenger weight, the US burns through another 39 million gallons of fuel per year. In Australian terms, that’s an extra 325 million litres of fuel for each additional kilogram of passenger weight.
Cars have also been forced to become larger – therefore heavier and less fuel efficient – as their occupants’ waistlines have expanded, further compounding the problem.
Earlier this year, some experts predicted that by 2015 more than half the US population will be obese – a forecast that will see additional fuel use climb even higher in the coming years.