Turns out losing weight can help save your life and the world at the same time.

According to a recent study published in *The Engineering Economist*, Americans are currently burning over 1 billion extra gallons of gas per year than in 1960 thanks to the country’s growing (no pun intended) obesity crisis.

With current gas prices at $2.20, that’s $2.2 billion dollars wasted over the course of an entire year.

The general rule of thumb is that for every extra 100 pounds you carry around in your car you will reduce its gas mileage by roughly 2%.Â Obviously, the lighter the car, the less energy (burned fuel) is needed in order to get up to and maintain speed.

While reading the report, I thought there were two things that really stood out:

- The current average weight is 191 pounds for a man, 164 pounds for a woman.Â This is roughly 25 pounds heavier than in 1960.
- The 1 billion gallons of wasted fuel accounts for less than 1% of annual fuel consumption in the United States.Â In doing that math, this means Americans consume 100 billion gallons of gasoline each year.

Of the two items listed above, I think the mostÂ eye opening statistic is the fact Americans consume over 100 billion gallons of gas each year.Â Â While I don’t exactly have a basisÂ for comparison, that seems like a lot of gas.

In looking at how much fuel we consume, it certainly makes you wonder whether or not trying your best to save gas really amounts to anything.

That being said, if everyone saved a little in the end it would amount toÂ a lot – so keep trying to get the best gas mileage possible!Â

So, if you find yourself weighing a little more than you’d like, turns out you can use your health **and** saving the environment as motivation to get in shape.

With respect to the gallons per year, I’ve always enjoyed the “Fermi” approach – one should be able to develop an estimate for anything. About 200,000,000 drivers driving about 12,000 miles per year is 2,400,000,000,000 (two trillion four hundred billion) miles. At 20 miles per gallon, this would be 120,000,000,000 (one hundred twenty billion) gallons. No exact figures there, but it certainly confirms the order of magnitude.

Next, I think that 100 extra pounds in my vehicle (a 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited) reduces my miles per gallon by between 0.9% and 1.1%. See http://hamiltonianfunction.blogspot.com/, my entry entitled “Effects of Weight” for the details of my estimate.

Hi, I don’t think I can edit my comments on this site. For those who are interested, the url for my blog shown above, at which many entries related to minimizing fuel consumption including estimates on the effects of excess can be found, is http://hamiltonian function.com/

No comma after the slash.

Argh.

http://hamiltonianfunction.blogspot.com/

Sorry all.

Can’t seem to leave this one alone. With respect to your wondering about the worth of trying to save fuel, I have also given a lot of thought to that. Feel free to see:

http://hamiltonianfunction.blogspot.com/2006/05/so-what.html

and

http://hamiltonianfunction.blogspot.com/2006/05/best-case-scenario.html