Natureís air bag

Want to improve your chances of surviving a car accident? Then get a bit flabby. A new study finds that men with some flab are more likely to survive accidents than men who are very fat or very thin:

The results suggest that a moderate layer of fat — such as that found in overweight but not obese people — provides a “cushioning” effect during a crash, [said lead author Dr. Shankuan Zhu, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.] But the cushion effect may vanish in males who are obese because their medical problems — such as cardiovascular diseases and high-blood pressure — could make them more vulnerable to dying from the effects of a crash, said Zhu. The same might be true for thin males, who may have medical problems that exacerbate their ability to survive a crash, said Dr. Saman Arbabi, director of trauma surgery research at the University of Michigan. He co-authored a similar study that found nearly identical results.

Yet for women researchers found no safety benefits of flab. Why?

Arbabi suggested that it may have something to do with the physics of car accidents and the way that fat appears on the body. Overweight men tend to look like apples, with weight around their bellies, while overweight women look like pears, with fat around their hips and buttocks.

Article here. More on highway safety here.