Jon de Vos: Buckle up, while you still can
Fraser, CO Colorado
It’s always seemed to me that one of the measures of being physically fit lay in one’s ability to fasten the seat belt on their car.
Can’t do it? Hmm, can’t even do it with both hands and a lot of cursing? Well, it’s simply time to cut back on the KFC Double Downs and fried pies for a week and try again. Repeat as necessary until you fit back into your car. Either that, or seriously, Dude, look into that used Hummer. Go for the big one.
Right after the holidays, most of us treat bathroom scales like we were going after a vampire with a silver cross and a holy-water squirt gun. Please, God, don’t let it near me.
However, there is good news. Ask anyone how much weight they think they gained since their last turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and they’re apt to self-consciously blurt out that they think they’ve gained maybe four or five pounds.
But the facts are kinder than the imagination, in this case. Science tells us that the average American bulks up only a single pound between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. One pound. That’s all, but of course, that’s assuming you’re average. And what’s a pound among friends?
Well, for one thing, at one pound per person, it adds up to more than 15,000,000 tons. Can you imagine if everybody rushed to the right side of the boat? Doggone thing would probably tip over like a Hong Kong ferry.
The real problem is gas. It always comes back to gas. A study from Virginia Commonwealth University tells us that the average American posterior has packed on so many Big Macs, that today we are pumping 938 million more gallons of fuel annually than we had to in 1960.
Almost a billion more gallons of fuel is required every year, solely as the result of extra passenger weight in vehicles. At a paltry $3 per gallon, that’s a cool $2.8 billion extra, per year, we spend hauling around 52 years of accumulated Christmas fudge.
In The Engineering Economist, the VCU study concludes that every pound of average body weight added to passenger vehicles requires an additional 39 million gallons of gasoline per year to move that pound around. That works out to 7.7 million extra dollars daily, poof, up into a brown cloud.
Creeping waistlines are becoming manifest elsewhere. The Washington state ferry service added new Coast Guard stability rules that raise the average passenger weight in their safety calculations from 160 pounds to a beefier 185. NASCAR tracks are beginning to widen their event seating from 18 inches wide to a beer-guzzling 22 inches. Movie theaters began widening seats 10 years ago in anticipation of today’s $10 box of buttered popcorn.
Heather Peters, a former Los Angeles attorney, is suing Honda in small claims court because she says Honda led her to believe her hybrid would actually get the 50 miles per gallon they advertised. Auto makers and dealers alike are reeling at the news of finding such a gullible Los Angeles attorney.
The only pictures available of Ms. Peters show her strategically hidden behind the open door of her vehicle, which she seems to dwarf. Not one of the numerous stories about the impending suit mentioned the former barrister’s weight, it being impolite to do so, I suppose.
If Peters prevails, producing plentiful packs of potential plaintiffs, counties may have to change their courthouse signs from Small-Claims to Hefty-Claims Court.
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