What Rising Gas Prices Mean for the Obesity Epidemic

There's a striking correlation between driving and obesity. Could a future with fewer cars help reverse one of our most pressing health crises?

We're eating bigger portions of highly processed foods, all the time, on every street corner. But what about the other factors that correspond with increasing rates of obesity, like driving, on average, 37 miles every day?

Last week, The Economist revisited a recent study from the journal Transport Policy (PDF), and put together this chart. The study's authors suggest that if every licensed driver in the United States drove 36 miles per day, one less mile than the current average, we'd have five million fewer obese adults by 2017.

While the two lines above represent a correlation and don't conclusively say driving causes obesity, the research highlights one of the many environmental factors that contribute to the obesity problem. Clearly, health is not simply a matter of diet and exercise. (But it's not just a matter of driving, either. Even wild animals and household pets appear to be putting on the pounds.)

If there really will be 10 million fewer cars by 2012, as Jeff Rubin predicted (PDF), could we reverse one of the most pressing health crises in America? Dr. Charles Courtemanche, an economist at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, ran the numbers. He writes in the journal Economic Inquiry that increasing gas prices by one dollar could cut obesity rates 10 percent over seven years and save an estimated $11 billion. He concludes:

[T]here may be a “silver lining” to the large spike in gasoline prices that has occurred in recent years in the United States: we may experience a modest reduction in obesity, or at least a slowdown in its growth.


Perhaps this is one crash diet worth trying.

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading