"Doctors Urging for a Safer, Choke-Free Hot Dog"

Choking to death on food of any type is very rare. There are about 60 million kids under age 15 in the US. 61 choked to death on food. I don't know how many of those choked on hotdogs, but I assume that given everything that kids eat it couldn't have been that many.

Choking kills more than 100 U.S. children 14 years or younger each year and thousands more — 15,000 in 2001 — are treated in emergency rooms. Food, including candy and gum, is among the leading culprits, along with items like coins and balloons. Of the 141 choking deaths in kids in 2006, 61 were food-related. . . .

So how many hotdog were eaten each year? Apparently about 9 billion!

Suppose that children eat hotdogs in proportion to their share of the population. That would be about 1.8 billion hotdogs (that may be high or low, but take it as a rough guess). If all choking deaths from food were due to hotdogs, that is 61/1.8 billion, a 0.0000034 percent rate. You are probably at more risk crossing a street.

UPDATE: Another estimate of the number of hotdogs puts the annual total at 7 billion (National Hot Dog and Sausage Council for 2007), or using our above assumptions 1.4 billion eaten by children. The risk rate rises to 0.0000044 percent.

UPDATE2: From "Kids and Killer Hot Dogs? 3 Tips to Prevent Choking on Food"

Between 66 and 77 children under age 10 die from choking on food each year. And because of the cylindrical shape that seems custom-made to lodge in a kid's throat, hot dogs are the food most commonly associated with fatal choking among children. . . .

On fatal food-related chokings, hotdogs make up 17 percent (Policy Statement␣Prevention of Choking Among Children, in the Journal Pediatrics, p. 602). 17 percent of 66 to 77 is between 11 and 13.

Hot dogs accounted for 17% of food-related asphyxiations among children younger than 10 years of age in a 41-state study by Harris et al.

By means of comparison, in 2006, 54 children under 15 died from gun accidents (this is the latest year for which the data is available).



Blogger Angie said...

I demand to know what they are going to do about grapes!

2/23/2010 7:17 AM  
Blogger John A said...

So, when are they going to go after that much more dangerous item, the bathtub?

2/23/2010 12:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's not the grapes or the hot dogs. I demand to know what they're going to do about stupid parents? (That is an even slipperier slope, since who hasn't done at least one stupid thing?)

2/23/2010 5:32 PM  
Blogger Hank said...

Good write-up. I heard on NPR it was 12 deaths total, or 17% of 77 deaths (which by my figuring is 13 deaths, but whatever).


My kids are going to eat hot dogs the right way. It's worth the risk.

2/23/2010 5:50 PM  

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