• Mar 2, 2011
There's no easy way to say this, America: You're getting fatter and older every year. Over a quarter of the population is obese, and the rate of obesity increases 0.5 percent each year. The amount of folks aged 65 and up currently stands at 40 million, but that number will increase to nearly 90 million by 2050. What does any of this have to do with automobiles? A lot – if you're a safety engineer.

The systems that help keep us safe during a crash will need to be redesigned to cope with our ever-increasing mass and aging bodies. Seatbelts and airbags are being developed that can work with the larger, older occupants of future vehicles. Adaptive airbags and load-limited seatbelts will better conform to the person sitting in the seat.

As we travel down the road to our Wall-E style future, it's comforting to know that today's engineers are working to protect tomorrow's driving population. The solution to our weight problem is, of course, to battle the ever-expanding waistlines found throughout our nation. That, however, is easier said than done. Let's just hope that the four-wheeled products that result don't resemble sculptor Erwin Wurm's 'fat car' series, as shown above.

Now if you'll excuse us, a 20-piece Chicken McNugget meal is calling from the kitchen. Oof, that's an awfully far walk for our aging bones, though.

[Source: Ward's Auto | Image: Dorotheum]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 34 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      When are we as a society going to accept that there is a certain amount of danger inherent in driving? Between the fuel economy regulations and the safety regulations of the future I honestly don't know how cars can be fun to drive anymore.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Keep cars as they are. It'll just lend more credence to the survival of the fittest. Not only will chubbies die of more heart disease and diabetes, but they'll die in accidents too.
      • 3 Years Ago
      20 piece? McDonald's has a 50 piece for $9.99 right now! Finally, a lunch for the average American.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Great most American cars are oversized as it is, this won't help.

      I find it immensely depressing that when the bring a European car over here, they have to widen the seat cushions.

      Oh and more old people on the roads... who are the engineers making it safer for, them or us?
        • 3 Years Ago
        I am completely color blind, slightly sexist, but a whole lot biased against men with their breasts size larger than that of a college girl's.


        ...Okay, if you are obese because you do have one of those rare genuine disorder/disease whatever that causes you to be OBESE (There are some genetic traits etc that will make you a bit overweight almost no matter what and I completely understand that), I sincerely apologize.

        Otherwise -
        Hit the gym, and don't have four big macs for your breakfast. Its disgusting.

        • 3 Years Ago
        I think obesity is one of the main reasons why SUVs past two decades became so popular.
        Because of these overweight fatasses cannot fit in compact or average size car. They are forced to buy bigger vehicles!

        Overweight humans=More food, more burdens on healthcare, more carbons produced in our planet.

        Gosh I love it....
        • 3 Years Ago
        Woah woah woah woah, wait.... wait.

        I thought I was fat because I was exercising too much. We need to get the word out!
        • 3 Years Ago
        Sorry JephMercury, it's nice of you that you are kinda defending obese humans due to their "genetic traits" and these kinds cannot help themselves.

        I have to disagree with you. This FACT is very simple to understand that even a little kid can understand:

        If a human being consumes more calories than the body expenditure, one shall GAIN weight. It's VERY simple as that.

        For example. Place a 300 pounder(with the "genetic trait" problem you mentioned) in a farm eating nothing but vegetables and working for food. Do you think he/she will maintain that fat ass? I think not...
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm fine with them designing with oldies in mind, but the fatties shouldn't be given consideration, they should just lose weight. Being obese is terribly unhealthy; stop doing it, world.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm so thin. :p
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why the hell do we have to keep making compromises to people who can't be bothered to put any effort into nutrition?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @dustandechoes91 - Chop off the left and right 1/5th of the continental US and you're left with the fat population. Heavily weighted towards Wisconsin.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @8complex

        You say that... until you see the ladies from WI. We have some pretty attractive women here. =)
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm a runner. All of my friends are runners. We all range from 5'10 to 6'4" and around 180lbs max. Sometimes I forget there is an obesity problem in this country. Everyone is so obsessed with sports and fitness and being a twig these days that I question where all the fat people are.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm bigger than you and higher in the food chain. Get in mah belleh!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Maybe the cars, themselves should be losing some weight, too.

      I'm just sayin'...

      Have you weighed a BMW lately?
        • 3 Years Ago
        If the Camaro of the future borrows the same platform from a Chevy Silverado, we're in trouble.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm confused. On one hand I hear people complaining about how fat America is getting, yet "It's not their fault they are fat" is also what I hear. And don't tell someone who is fat to lose weight or you will be labeled as an insensitive bastard who doesn't understand how hard it is to lose weight. BTW, I lost about 60lbs over two years ago and have kept it off with a simple diet change, so don't tell me it's hard.

      Until the US gets over it's political correctness and decides it is not OK to be fat, like much of the rest of the world, where their society tells people it's not OK, we will continue to see this trend.
      • 3 Years Ago
      i propose a tax for people who are above the norm for their body type, any extra pound you carry, you have to pay extra tax, don't like wasting money, lose the damn weight
      take that fatties!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well... If you think about it, the 25% of the overweight may be dead before they get old...

      • 3 Years Ago
      Fat people are the worst when you have to sit next to them on an airplane, and they take half of your seat through fat spillover.
      • 3 Years Ago
      After reading the article I was wondering the source of your headline, then I noticed the "sponsor." Your friendly sponsor of that headline is none other than the company that claims that all their unintended acceleration "incidents" arer due to inept old drivers.

      When I am out and about, all the morbidly obese ("fat" to AB and Lexus) people I see are around the age of 20 - 50. "Old" people tend to be thin as they lose weight as they age. Is "Fat" to be another "defense" arrow in Toyota's multifaceted "defense" quiver?
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