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Thread: Obesity - and the SUV boom

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Our vehicles are getting bigger - and interestingly, so are we. The growing girth of the American waistline almost directly parallels the rise of super-sized vehicles - SUVs especially.

    Coincidence - or causality? Consider some facts:

    * Widespread obesity - defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30 - is a relatively recent phenomenon.

    * So is the full-size SUV.


    Twenty years ago, the category hardly existed. There were a couple of specialty 4x4 models like the Jeep Wagoneer and Range Rover - but nine out of ten people still drove cars. And by and large, we were slim. The sight of a 300-pounder was still rare enough to draw attention.

    Fast forward to 1998. That year, Lincoln launched the Navigator - the first time the use of a nautical adjective to describe the introduction of a new vehicle seemed truly appropriate. Within a year, Cadillac had scrambled to meet the threat - and its own gilded Brontosaurus was soon stomping the roads of America - the 6,000 pound Yukon Denali-based Escalade.

    Today, every major manufacturer has one of these enormous vehicles in its product lineup - even Porsche. The hunger for massive SUVs has been so enormous that even Toyota - the brand that made its name selling modest, fuel-efficient compacts - has its own full-sized road titans now, including a 380 hp (and 15 mpg) SUV based on its full-size pick-up. Nissan sells a Titan - literally.

    These super-sized conveyances account for more than half of all new vehicle sales - even as gas prices have doubled over the past 3-4 years.

    And 300 pounders are now a common sight.

    Even our kids are fat.

    Childhood obesity is now a big problem. Afflictions such as diabetes and congestive heart failure are increasingly common - for people under 40.

    Go to a shopping mall and look around. There are more people whose side profile resembles Chris Farley's than Paris Hilton's lumbering toward the food court.

    Whether it's the cause, an after-effect - or merely an outward manifestation of our Caligula-like gluttony - there's no question some kind of weird relationship exists between the beefing of America and the rise of equally beefy SUVs.

    The Centers for Disease Control notes that as of 2001 19.8 percent of American adults could be classified as "obese" (BMI of 30 or higher), a whopping 61 percent increase since 1991. In terms of numbers, that's about 44 million Americans. This uptick is precisely coincident with the blossoming of the large SUV - and in particular, of the rise of behemoths in the 6,000-pound and heavier class - including the Hummer H1 and H2, the Cadillac Escalade ESV (an even more humungous version of the already humungous Caddy SUV) and most recently, Toyota's Tundra-based super-sized Sequoia.

    These things don't fit easily (if at all) in most parking garages, are hard to manuever in close quarters, slurp more fuel than most '60s-era big blockmuscle cars - and handle like Hippopotomi on roller skates. But we snap e'm up as greedily as we throw down thick-fingered fistfulls of Snow Caps at the movies.

    Because we've discovered we can't squeeze ourselves into anything smaller.


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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Our vehicles are getting bigger - and interestingly, so are we. The growing girth of the American waistline almost directly parallels the rise of super-sized vehicles - SUVs especially.

    Coincidence - or causality?


    Is this to suggest that SUVs cause big people?

    Seriously, cars were much larger from the late 50's right through the early 70's when downsizing was more or less mandated.

    And those earlier cars all had bench seats which knew no limits in the butt department.


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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    our Caligula-like gluttony - there's no question some kind of weird relationship exists between the beefing of America and the rise of equally beefy SUVs.

    I couldn't possibly comment.

    There may be an element of fear of collision, regardless of fault, I want to be as big or bigger than the other vehicle.

  4. #4

    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    correlation != causation
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    correlation != causation
    It's been a long time away from the books but I don't think so.

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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    What Damen is saying is that we have two observed phenomenon -- people buying ever-larger SUVs, and people getting fat.

    Is there a link between the two? And if so, how strong?
    Only a study can tell us whether the new Excursion owners bought the vehicle because they liked it, or because it was what they were able to fit into.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  7. #7

    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    indeed, sorry but I'm a computer geek so I tend to use computer terms != means not equal, or does not equal
    correlation may IMPLY causation, but does not equal/mean it

    one of my favorite examples of this is global warming and pirates (as demonstrated by the good folks at the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), as seen here:


    clearly this is just ridiculousness, but it illustrates the point
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    I just posted this article on the main page:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...9&Itemid=10849

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    correlation != causation
    It's been a long time away from the books but I don't think so.
    Perhaps if one of those books had clued you into the meaning of the term "!="...

  10. #10
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ..... Because we've discovered we can't squeeze ourselves into anything smaller.
    My take is that US cars of the Fifties had the interior size and proportions just about right for the average American family.

    But today's sedans are too small. Some are comfortable enough for the occasional long ride, but you can't separate the kids far enough to prevent, uh, interaction, and you can't carry your stuff and your family at once.

    Since the price of '55 Nomads in decent shape has gone through the roof, Escalades and such are the next logical choice.




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    Senior Member Kwozzie1's Avatar
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Am I ready to down size to a VW Golf?

    See picture

    Rex
    On the Sunshine Coast, in the Sunshine State Queensland (QLD), Australia

  12. #12
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    I weigh 245 and fit into a Golf just fine.

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    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    ..... Because we've discovered we can't squeeze ourselves into anything smaller.
    My take is that US cars of the Fifties had the interior size and proportions just about right for the average American family.

    But today's sedans are too small. Some are comfortable enough for the occasional long ride, but you can't separate the kids far enough to prevent, uh, interaction, and you can't carry your stuff and your family at once.

    Since the price of '55 Nomads in decent shape has gone through the roof, Escalades and such are the next logical choice.

    Solid point... I am old enough to remember the big boats of the '70s in regular service as family cars. My folks had a huge Oldsmobile 98 Regency sedan, for example. Such a car was massively larger than a current Camry or Accord or equivalent. The rear seat and trunk area was comparable to a Benz S-Class.




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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    The family car when I was growing up was a late 60's Plymouth station wagon. Yellow, with black vinyl + metal interior that would scorch your ass in the summer. Tons of room in that car.

    Chip H.


    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    indeed, sorry but I'm a computer geek so I tend to use computer terms != means not equal, or does not equal
    correlation may IMPLY causation, but does not equal/mean it
    OK, I just learned sumpin, thank you.

    Are there similar usages for "equal to or less than" and "equal to or more than?"

  16. #16
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel

    Perhaps if one of those books had clued you into the meaning of the term "!="...
    I'd write to the author(s) but suspect they have have long since met their reward.

    And I am reasonably sure that there is no way to enter != into a Friden electro-mechanical calculator.

  17. #17
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    The family car when I was growing up was a late 60's Plymouth station wagon. Yellow, with black vinyl + metal interior that would scorch your ass in the summer. Tons of room in that car.

    Chip H.

    I had a late 50s (?58) Plymouth wagon which met the "utility" test, that is, a 4x8 sheet of plywood would fit flat in the back with the rear seats folded down. I got it as a gift from my father when it was five years old. After using it for a while, I decided the old boy was not as generous as it first appeared.

  18. #18

    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    indeed, sorry but I'm a computer geek so I tend to use computer terms != means not equal, or does not equal
    correlation may IMPLY causation, but does not equal/mean it
    OK, I just learned sumpin, thank you.

    Are there similar usages for "equal to or less than" and "equal to or more than?"
    indeed there are
    >= and <=
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    Quote Originally Posted by damen
    indeed, sorry but I'm a computer geek so I tend to use computer terms != means not equal, or does not equal
    correlation may IMPLY causation, but does not equal/mean it
    OK, I just learned sumpin, thank you.

    Are there similar usages for "equal to or less than" and "equal to or more than?"
    indeed there are
    >= and <=
    And %=
    and some other combination operator & assignment symbols.

    One thing I like about C# is the different assignment and comparison operators (= and ==). It always annoyed me in C and C++ with the same symbol defined for both.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  20. #20
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    Re: Obesity - and the SUV boom

    Quote Originally Posted by jdm
    I had a late 50s (?58) Plymouth wagon which met the "utility" test, that is, a 4x8 sheet of plywood would fit flat in the back with the rear seats folded down. I got it as a gift from my father when it was five years old. After using it for a while, I decided the old boy was not as generous as it first appeared.
    In those days the local barber's shop had lots of 'Batman' and 'Popular Mechanics' to read. What strange cars, we thought. My uncle, a barber, bought a c1960 Chev. Might have been a Pontiac. We all got sick in the back such was the wallowing on the rural roads. We only got that one ride.
    His son had sideburns, swept-back oiled hair and winklepickers. Did you?

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