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How Does Higher Petrol Price Help You In Losing More Weight?

June 5th, 2008 · 6 Comments ·


Ever since year 2005, petrol price has been going up and it has gone even worse lately. I just came across an interesting finding from a study – the increase of gas prices are actually helping people to lose weight. A doctoral student in health economics at the University of Washington found out that rising fuel costs are forcing American to drive less, eat at home more and eventually slimming down.

The student, Charles Courtemanche, called it a “silver lining” to this global fuel price problem which is getting worse for the past couple of years. He found that every US$1 rise in gas prices has reduced obesity by about 15 percent after 5 years. He even estimated that this trend could save 16,000 lives and help US government to save as much as US$17 billion in health bills each year. The report shows that between 1979 and 2004 which the pump prices are affordable, obesity has risen about 13 percent during that period. Obesity, which is defined as having a body mass index more than 30, has been considered to factor in as many as 112,000 deaths annually.

While many are skeptical about that conclusion, to a certain extent, I may agree with what Charles has found out:

  • As petrol become more expensive while our earning power remains the same, we may drive less and walk more. Walk the kids to school. Walk to subways or bus stops to take public transportation. Some may cycle to work. More physical activities are good in weight control.


  • Also, many things are becoming more expensive, including meals in restaurant. Petrol cost normally creates the chain effect – transportation cost increases, many things becoming more expensive and customers end up paying extra. Therefore, more people prepare meals for lunch box, eat out less and having dinner at home in an effort to save money to pay for the increased cost of gas.


Not a bad study considering the student got the idea when he himself was filling up his car at the pump. So, the next time when people are complaining about the gas price, tell them the increase may help their wallet and waistline, provided they walk more and eat in more.

However, it is a matter of time people are getting used to the high price of gas. The old habit tends to kick in after some time.

I hope government will not use this reason to justify the increase of gasoline prices. “We care for your weight problem, therefore we increase the petrol and gas price.” No, better not. I am thinking out loud, may be, just may be, if the government really cares for our health, government should impose tax on unhealthy foods (like fast food, ice cream and other junk foods) and take that money to subsidy on the gas price increase?


I still believe that there is no quick fix to obesity problem and the research does not really conclude whether increased fuel cost will have a positive or negative net impact on social welfare. Gas price is not the solution, whether with or without intention. The solution should come from the person himself.

And now, please reduce the petrol price and don’t ever increase it again!



Category: Weight Loss

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6 responses so far ↓
  • GymRat // Jun 5, 2008 at 9:03 AM

    Thanks for this informative and useful article Mun. But you’re right too, old habit tends to kick in after some time. People will get used to the price increase eventually.

  • sylvesteR // Jun 6, 2008 at 11:32 AM

    No, I think they should let the price increase, since petroleum is running out soon, there’s no way the price is going to reduce since higher demand over supplement. Look at the bright side, people are losing weight and they are learning how to save money at the same time, isn’t this great? Maybe you guys should resort to something more beneficial, like what you’ve mentioned afore, waling is the best way or probably cycling. Anyway there’s a possibility the bicycle price will increase right? I mean after petrol is out, haha!!

  • Yin Teing // Jun 8, 2008 at 11:42 PM

    Actually, if we look carefully at our expenses, there are lots of area we can cut down on spending. Like stop succumbing to impulse purchases and buy only what we need, curb the expensive taste of eating at high end restaurants and Starbucks latte. Who knows, we may end up saving more :)

  • Kevlin // Jun 10, 2008 at 3:59 PM

    Well got to agree with Yin Teing, we can cut down on our spending by reducing our way of eating outside at high class restaurant. I have friends who will only think of those taste no mather how expensive they are when u tell them is not worth it, they will reply you “Enjoy life man” or with an irritating answer “Why are you so kiam siap rm 18 for a cup of coffee not a big deal”. Well price of petrol increase will make more people to stay at home more often and like you said eat less unhealthy food outside. There are always pros and cons in this type of price increasement.

  • bengbeng // Jun 10, 2008 at 8:40 PM

    for me it is the other way round…increase in fuel prices makes gym omos a luxury now with fuel to n from the gym n gym fees, supplements etc.. after my membership expires i might jus give up

  • Yin Teing // Jun 12, 2008 at 11:18 PM

    Haha, true, I think gyms will be losing more members- gyms would probably be the first expense that people cut down on (and why not Astro?). But for me, I consider the membership fee as an investment for my health- more scared to get diabetes or high blood pressure coz I will not be able to afford the meds.

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