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Journal Article


Mock CN, Grossman DC, Kaufman RP, Mack CD, Rivara FP. Accid. Anal. Prev. 2002; 34(2): 221-228.


Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle, WA 98104, USA.


(Copyright © 2002, Elsevier Publishing)






We sought to investigate the effect of increased body weight on the risk of death and serious injury to occupants in motor vehicle crashes. We employed a retrospective cohort study design utilizing data from the National Automotive Sampling System, Crashworthiness Data System (CDS), 1993-1996. Subjects in the study included occupants involved in tow-away crashes of passenger cars, light trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles. Two outcomes were analyzed: death within 30 days of the crash and injury severity score (ISS). Two exposures were considered: occupant body weight and body mass index (BMI; kg/m2). Occupant weight was available on 27263 subjects (76%) in the CDS database. Mortality was 0.67%. Increased body weight was associated with increased risk of mortality and increased risk of severe injury. The odds ratio for death was 1.013 (95% CI: 1.007, 1.018) for each kilogram increase in body weight. The odds ratio for sustaining an injury with ISS > or = 9 was 1.008 (95% CI: 1.004, 1.011) for each kilogram increase in body weight. After adjustment for potentially confounding variables (age, gender, seatbelt use, seat position and vehicle curbweight), the significant relationship between occupant weight and mortality persisted. After adjustment, the relationship between occupant weight and ISS was present, although less marked. Similar trends were found when BMI was analyzed as the exposure. In conclusion, increased occupant body weight is associated with increased mortality in automobile crashes. This is probably due in part to increased co-morbid factors in the more overweight occupants. However, it is possibly also due to an increased severity of injury in these occupants. These findings may have implications for vehicle safety design, as well as for transport safety policy.


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