As Britain’s obesity epidemic worsens, fat Scots are having to be buried rather than cremated because the coffins of the obese are proving too big for traditional crematorium furnaces.
BBC News previously reported obesity could be costing Scotland up to £4.6bn a year with almost two thirds of adults being overweight and one quarter obese. Deadline News reports Scottish funeral directors have warned the widening obesity epidemic in Britain has a growing impact on burial services as the average weight continues to increase.
In response some cemetery owners are beginning to levy additional charges for coffins catering to the larger customer because burial plots are in short supply. This means funeral costs for fat Scots rise because families will pay the ‘fat premium’ to avoid a long journey to an appropriately equipped crematorium, instead plumping for a local cemetery.
The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) yesterday said that as the percentage of morbidly fat Scots increases, some companies are investing in bigger equipment such as rise and fall decks in funeral vehicles, bariatric stretchers, larger-size mortuary refrigerators and dedicated lifting equipment.
The NAFD adds that its members “are all finding that they need to order increasing numbers of larger coffins each year as the numbers of obese persons passing away continues to increase,” adding: “Standard grave sizes generally accommodate most larger-size coffins, with the occasional exception, although some cemetery owners do levy an additional charge for the much larger American-style caskets.”
According to Deadline News, in the U.S. the average casket width is about 26 inches, but manufacturers are now turning out much larger versions up to 40 per cent wider to cater for bigger bodies.
Howevere, finding a furnace or grave big enough for over-sized coffins is not the only problem facing the relatives of fat Scots. The NAFD explains:
“…tradition in Scotland is for members of the family to lower the coffin into the ground using cords and tassels on the handles of the coffin. However with a larger coffin this may not be possible or advisable and so our members talk gently through the alternatives, with most of the families choosing for the coffin to be lowered into the ground prior to the family’s arrival, either using a hoist system or by a larger team from the funeral firm.”
It is also an issue that affects local authorities who are having to ramp up investment in council-run funeral operations. For example Glasgow Crematorium is undergoing an upgrade with the installation of new facilities including larger cremators and catafalques.