If we have humans A, B and C who are different:

  • A is thin (skinny) without significant muscle or fat mass.
  • B is muscular
  • C is fat

Which one of them has the best body for survival in accidents like car crash, aircraft crash, fall from the ladder, fall down the stairs, being hit by a car, slip in the bathroom, etc?

What are the effects of muscle and fat mass on survivability?

  • $\begingroup$ Is this question specifically about resilience to falls/impacts? Or does this question also include disease risk? A major factor would be the age of the people in question... for instance, a high BMI is predictive of increased cardiovascular risk when younger, but in aged individuals (>65) a high BMI is actually protective, which may be due to an inverse correlation with frailty, or other complicating factor. Also, if you down-vote, provide a constructive comment for the poster. $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    Sep 24, 2013 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ The question is about resilience to falls/impacts. For example, can stronger neck muscles prevent my neck from breaking if I fall? $\endgroup$
    – Matrix
    Sep 24, 2013 at 14:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Depends, if C falls on their but, they'll be better off, if they fall on their heads the fat will make no difference. This is really way too broad, the details of how the fall occurs will always decide the outcome, voting to close. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Sep 24, 2013 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ I'll be happy with a broad answer. There is no need to go into extreme details nor close the question, that would just be a cop-out. $\endgroup$
    – Matrix
    Sep 24, 2013 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


For car crashes, it's a mixed bag:

Basically, it looks like, if wearing a seat belt, slightly overweight is more likely to survive a car crash, but if no seat belts are worn they are at a disadvantage; the very obese are always more likely to die, however. Also, some of this was found only for males, not females.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. What about muscles? Do they have the same effect as fat? $\endgroup$
    – Matrix
    Sep 24, 2013 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ That's harder to test, as you can't measure "muscles" from old data but you can estimate BMI from height and weight. That being said, muscles might help a bit, but only because people are muscular tend to be "harder," that is, they have stronger bones and joints and have stronger muscular walls protecting their organs. Conjecture, of course. $\endgroup$
    – Amory
    Sep 24, 2013 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Amory, the studies you referred to look at BMI, but it doesn't specify whether the BMI increase was due to muscle or due to fat. After all, muscle is heavier than fat. $\endgroup$
    – Kenshin
    Sep 25, 2013 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ Correct, but most people aren't Arnold Schwarzenegger. $\endgroup$
    – Amory
    Sep 25, 2013 at 4:24

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