Gas prices have settled a bit in the past few months, but with the cost of a gallon still lingering well in the two-dollar range, many Americans are looking for ways to save a few bucks at the pump. But what if you are happy with your current car and don't want to be a new one that's more fuel efficient? One new study suggests you dump your spare tire.

No, not that spare tire. The one around your waist. This new study suggests that Americans are burning nearly 1 billion more gallons of gasoline every year because of the extra weight we're are toting around. At $2.20 a gallon, that amounts to $2.2 billion wasted on gas each year. "If a person reduces the weight in their car, either by removing excess baggage, carrying around less weight in their trunk, or yes, even losing weight, they will indeed see a drop in their fuel consumption." This from study co-author and University of Illinois researcher Sheldon Jacobson.

Jacobson points out that the lost mileage for any single driver is pretty small. Even by losing 100 pounds, the average driver would only save about $40 a year over a typical 12,000 miles. But it adds up when you consider how many motorists are on the road. Other research, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies support these findings. In a related study, the CDC found that heavy fliers have contributed to higher fuel costs for airlines.

The study will appear in the October-December issue of The Engineering Economist, one of those academic/industry journals published by the American Society of Engineering Education and the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, former CDC director points out that although valid, the study conclusion is only partially helpful: "The wrong fuel is being focused on. If you're heavier, the most important fuel you use more of is food."

[Source: Yahoo! News]