Obesity causing problems for funeral directors

Posted by AK Lander | On October 2, 2015 15:39

A rise in overweight deaths has put pressure on funeral directors and crematoriums in order to cater for the demand.


More people in the UK are dying because of obesity than ever before, and this is causing problems for funeral directors and crematoriums, as they struggle to accommodate for larger individuals.

Morgues are unable to find room for the deceased, while coffins are becoming too heavy to be carried on the shoulders of traditional pallbearers. Families planning burials for their loved ones are also having to buy double plots, which sometimes requires a customised gravestone, in order to cater for the larger coffins. Manufacturers are now making models of coffins up to 40 percent wider to cater for larger bodies.

A surge in overweight deaths has created more demand

The Guardian recently reported that the cemeteries board in Western Australia had been prompted to order two more oversized cremators, the largest on the market, in order to keep up with the demand. The first cremator of this size was installed in 2012, and has the capacity to handle 350kg. To put this into perspective, the average coffin usually weighs around 100kg.

The cremators cannot be built any bigger, as the lifting machinery and conveyor belt which lifts the coffins, would not be able to cope with anything heavier. In one instance, the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board was forced to turn down a request for a cremation where the combined weight was 530kg.

Asides from the problem of fitting the coffins into the cremator, it also takes an extra half an hour to cremate a 350kg coffin, which usually takes 90 minutes for a standard sized casket. In the UK, there are only a few crematoriums which are able to cater for larger coffins, with the relatives of the overweight deceased having to travel hundreds of miles for funerals. This can be very expensive and distressing for family members at an already difficult time.

Image Credit: Don LaVange (flickr.com)