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Obesity Hurts Economy in Unexpected Ways

With the nationwide obesity epidemic in full swing, it shouldn't be a surprise some sectors of the business world are taking a bigger hit than others. In fact, America's expanding waistlines have done more damage to the health of the airline industry, according to a CDC report, than most would expect. Considering how often I fly, I'm surprised this didn't occur to me before.

Look at how the average American's average weight gain throughout the 90s -- about 10 pounds -- affected the airlines in 2000:

  • An additional 350 million gallons of jet fuel or 2.4 percent more fuel was used
  • The extra fuel cost the airlines some $275 million
  • That additional fuel released an estimated 3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere

Although overweight passengers don't pose any safety threat, the extra weight may partly account for airlines eliminating metal cutlery and the scarcity of magazines on flights, experts say.

So when you wonder why your next airplane ticket is so expensive, reconsider that McDonald's pitstop before boarding your flight. Obesity hurts your health and your pocketbook.

Newsday November 4, 2004

The Scotsman November 6, 2004

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