Saturday, March 10, 2007

Can I Supersize That Coffin For Ya?

Funeral homes across the country are forced to deal with a new problem, the uber corpse, as overweight fatties overwhelm traditional burial arrangements.

Funeral homes and the Snohomish County medical examiner's office are having to find larger equipment such as cots and power hoists to accommodate a growing number of deceased obese people. The trend has led to the use of bigger cots, larger cremation and embalming facilities, and more staff and power hoists to properly care for overweight people who die.

Jumping up and down on Ted Kennedy's size XXXL ass to make it fit inside a L coffin would be a an event worth watching. The sixteen pallbearers lined up on each side of the coffin may find it disquieting that its sides are bulging, ready to spill the contents.

"It's very important that you treat the deceased with dignity and respect," medical examiner spokeswoman Carolyn Sanden said.

And the familia will see how backing up that shiny, black Cadillac payloader to the grave site *beep* *beep* is real dignified.

About 22 percent of adults in Washington state are obese and another 36 percent are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationwide, an estimated 33 percent of adults between 20 and 74 years old are obese.

"It's not unusual to encounter 300-pound people now, which used to be the exception rather than the rule," said Jim Noel, who has worked 47 years in the funeral-home profession and is executive director of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association.

In Snohomish County cases investigated last year, the medical examiner provided the weight of 326 people, with 84 adults considered obese based on their body-mass index, which takes into account height and weight.

Fifteen weighed more than 300 pounds, and a 6-foot-tall, middle-aged man weighed 499.

The other side of the agrument is: how old are these people? Overweight people usually have accompanying health problems that hasten their demise.

Injuries to workers removing and transporting heavier bodies have cost an average $16,000 a year since 2003, according to staff reports to the County Council.

[...] The county also has spent $18,000 in recent years on larger tables and electric hoists because the older, smaller tables couldn't accommodate rolling a body over for examination.

Pretty soon they'll be using forklifts. Some of the article deals with winching dead bodies onto examination tables. It sounds like a Japanese whale factory.

Webster has seen cases where families have bought custom-sized caskets, and the family of one 784-pound woman had to buy three cemetery plots.

That's not a burial plot, it's a landfill project.

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