As this story on CNN notes, since 2003, 46 people have died in accidents—one airplane, two boat—partially attributed to overweight Americans. It seems that the standards used by regulators to determine how many people can occupy a vessel are based on an average passenger's weight from 1942: 140 pounds. When the Lady D water taxi sank in Baltimore's Inner Harbor in 2004, killing five people, "the average weight among the 25 passengers when the accident happened was 168 pounds, making it 700 pounds overweight, investigators said."
It would be nice if our corrective action was to get our national average weight back down to 140 pounds to match up with the standards—and get more people onto boats and airplanes. Instead, of course, regulators are simply going to adjust the weight estimates to match our appalling girth. —Eric Adams