Thursday, October 26, 2006
Junk in the Trunk
Of all the reasons to lose weight, perhaps the dumbest one was given global exposure today by a journal not previously known for its medical or behavioral health credentials.
The journal Engineering Economist calculates that compared to 1960, the weight of today's obese Americans has caused a 1 billion-gallon increase in gasoline usage from hauling around all the extra weight over the past 46 years. The conclusion: if we just ate less we could end dependence on foreign oil.
Apples and oranges ought to be protesting this finding!
Aside from the law of conservation of energy, which I do not pretend to fully understand, the flaws in this analysis are numerous and obvious.
First of all, nothing is the same now as in 1960, except for scary Republicans. The cars back then were far less energy-efficient than they are today and the gasoline is better quality and at the same inflation-adjusted price.
There are more (and taller) people today, not only due to the baby boom but due to safer cars killing fewer people.
And if all that weight resides in the passenger compartment of our cars as a result of eating too much junk, then it is logical to assume less gasoline is being used for turnip trucks, which I swear I did not fall from any time recently.
Blaming excessive gasoline usage on junk food is like blaming global warming on your faulty toaster. The authors have it entirely backwards. We are not spending more on gasoline because we are fat, we are fat because we are spending more to drive places we used to walk.