Study: Parents Give Less Help to Fat Kids When Buying a Car

September 24th, 2010

Nobody said fat people have it easy.

A recent study of college students who bought cars for themselves found that those who were overweight or obese were “less likely to have family support for an automobile purchase, regardless of the family’s financial status or whether they were male or female.”

Well, most of us know that fat people are discriminated against…but by their own parents? That is really “tough love.” I think it’s part of a conscious effort to put down teens for their self-destructive driving behaviors—you know, texting, eating, making out while driving, etc.

“You’re too fat, Charlie. Your mother and I will only help you pay for the car if you lose 50 pounds by Christmas.”

The study offered some so-called “viable explanations,” which are basically dumb, for this behavior. One of the researchers said, “parents may be less likely to invest resources in offspring they believe are unfit.” Meaning that they don’t want them passing on their genes to create the next generation of fatties. Darwin would be pleased with that one.

Or, they suggested, the parents may just be part of a general tendency people have to discriminate against the overweight. Or, as I suggest, they may subconsciously be angry and tapped out financially from feeding the kid all those years.

Consumer Reports has a piece on how to reach teen drivers—a major topic of the 2010 Distracted Driving Summit. It’s the usual stuff: driver education, legislation, technology to prevent or block texting, parental and peer involvement.

And the National Motorists Association runs another typical story, “What Is a Good First Car for a Teen Driver?” Guess what it is? Bigger and heavier is better, no SUVs, get one with manual transmission, etc. And here’s some really good advice: Choose a car without a wing, hood scoop, loud exhaust or powerful engine.

I say that none of this stopgap stuff is going to work. Teens have always been outliers, testers, and protesters—albeit usually veiled ones. And some of them eat too much, drink too much, text too much. Like their parents.

Smart parents know that the best way to teach your kid is by example.

Did your parents help you buy a car when you went to college?

—jgoods

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