Risk and injury severity of obese child passengers in motor vehicle crashes

Kim, J.-E., Hsieh, M.-H., Shum, P.C., Tubbs, R.S., Allison, D.B., 2015. Risk and injury severity of obese child passengers in motor vehicle crashes. Obesity (Silver Spring) 23, 644–652. doi:10.1002/oby.21018



To investigate the risk and injury severity on the regional body (head, neck, and chest) of obese children in frontal motor vehicle crashes (MVCs).


No physical surrogates (i.e., crash dummies) for obese children were available, and experiments on pediatric cadavers were generally not feasible. Therefore, computational models of obese children using medical imaging processing and state-of-the-art modeling techniques were developed. A hybrid modeling technique was used to integrate the finite element model for torso fat layer into the standard multibody model to represent various levels of obese children for 3- and 6-year-old age groups. The models were used to investigate injury severity under various crash scenarios through model simulations.


The head injury criterion and chest acceleration were observed to increase as body mass index (BMI) increased. Meanwhile, no such correlations were found between BMI and neck injury and chest deformation. Forward head and torso excursions were observed to increase as obesity increased, owing to the momentum effect of greater body mass.


Obese children appeared to have greater risks for head and chest injuries than do their non-obese counterparts in frontal MVCs, owing to higher head and chest accelerations induced by greater body excursion.

© 2015 The Obesity Society.