Weight Loss Clinic in San Antonio, Texas, Helps Reduce Risks

Lack of seatbelt use can be added to the list of risk factors associated with obesity, an additional incentive for seeking lap band weight loss surgery performed by the South Texas Surgeons in San Antonio, Texas.

Vanderbilt University psychologist David Schlundt studied the relationship between seat belt use and weight after noticing that obese people sometimes struggled to fit into the auto restraints, reported the Associated Press in a San Antonio, Texas, Express-News story dated Feb. 10, 2008.

Buckling Up for Safety: Another Weight Loss Surgery Motivation

"The overweight and obese really have a hard time getting that belt buckle over them," Schlundt said. "They have to stretch it out and then over and then some can't see the buckle." He and his colleagues at Meharry Medical College in Nashville reviewed nearly 250,000 responses about seat belt use from a national telephone health survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Based on that 2002 data, the study found that seat belt use declined as body mass index (BMI) — a calculation based on height and weight — increased.

Only about 70 percent of extremely obese individuals reported always using a seat belt, while nearly 83 percent of normal-weight people always used their belts, the study found. More than half of those killed in auto accidents weren't wearing seat belts, according to the latest federal figures. The study's findings were published in the journal Obesity.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of preventable death and injury in the U.S., accounting for some 40,000 fatalities, 500,000 hospitalizations, and 4 million emergency department visits annually. Seat belts can reduce crash-related deaths and injuries by 50% or more yet 20% of U.S. adults do not routinely buckle up.

Federal standards that specify the length of auto seat belts date back four decades and only require that seat belts accommodate a 215-pound man. Some manufacturers offer bigger belts or extenders anyway, but other auto companies have concerns about effectiveness and liability.

Seat Belt Use Is More Likely Following Weight Loss Surgery

Many factors affect seat belt use, including sex, age and state laws, but Schlundt said the connection between increased weight and decreased use was consistent when those things were taken into account.

Government regulations for auto manufacturers don't use BMI to determine dimensions for seat belts, but says belts must fit up to a 215-pound man who has a seated hip circumference of 47 inches. That was set in the 1960s.

When NHTSA considered changing the rules in 2003, it estimated that more than 38 million people, or 19 percent of the total U.S. population, were larger than the seat belt requirements. They decided not to revise standards, since most top manufacturers including Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Chrysler LLC, Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. have seat belts that are longer than required.

Incorrectly-Sized Seat Belt Extenders Pose Other Risks to the Obese

According to the NHTSA, an incorrectly sized seat belt extender could fail to provide upper body restraint and may pull the lap belt onto the abdomen during a front impact, possibly leading to internal injury.

The companies each provide an average of 18-20 inches of extra belt length, more than enough to accommodate the largest percentage of drivers. Many of those manufacturers also have seat belt extensions or longer belts that can be purchased or installed at dealerships. Ford offers their extensions for free.

Several foreign brands, such as Honda, BMW, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche do not provide seat belt extenders. Extensions have to be used carefully because they can be hazardous if used by passengers who are too small, related the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety.

If you're interested in learning more about the life-changing Lap Band surgery, contact South Texas Surgeons in San Antonio today for more information at (210) 220-1726.