Obesity and Flying
Published: May 2009
By Clark Mitchell
The heavy impact of the American waistline on the airline industry.
Sixty-five percent of American adults are overweight or obese, a fact that is having an adverse economic impact on the airline industry, say four doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose findings were published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Heavier fliers require extra fuel—the airlines spent $275 million in 2000 to carry the additional weight, the doctors estimate. But "fat activists"—already furious that some airlines charge plus-size passengers for two seats—disagree.
"The airlines have an unrealistic notion of how much a person should weigh," says Mary Ray Worley, a spokesperson at the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA). At press time, a blog frequented by NAAFA members was inundated with angry comments critiquing the report and attributing the additional weight to heavier carry-ons. One post read: "While my extra pounds may not be particularly good for my own health, surely they won't be the demise of modern aviation."