New research shows obese adults are at a much higher risk of injury or death in a serious vehicle crash.

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The research reveals the lower body of an obese person is propelled farther upon impact before seat belt engagement. The driver's additional tissue prevents the belt from fitting snugly, but the upper body is held back.

The researchers examined data from the U.S. Fatality Analysis Reporting System from 1996 to 2008. In that period, 57,491 collisions in the nation were submitted.

They suggest vehicle interior design, seat and lap belt, even airbag design might need to change.

Tracy Noble, of Triple-A/Mid-Atlanic, says, "There's lots of factors that need to be evaluated."

Keshia Pollack, Associate Professor with the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, says more testing is needed to understand the bio-mechanics of how bodies react in collisions. For example, there have been discussions about using larger crash-test dummies, says Pollack.

But Carroll Lachnit, of Edmunds.com, suggests that this research might just present another reason to lose weight if one is overweight.

"It's probably going to be, in the long run, easier for each of us to tailor our bodies, than to have cars tailored to us."