Ireland’s ever-expanding waistline is proving costly for bereaved families, with undertakers noting a rise in orders for oversized coffins.
Funeral directors say the trend is consistent with the country’s well-documented rising obesity levels, with demand for bigger coffins having increased every year for the past decade.
Keith Massey, who runs Rom Massey & Sons funeral directors in Dublin, said more than one in four people he lays to rest are obese — up from one in 10 a decade ago.
Of the obese corpses, at least one a month is over 25 stone, leaving families with heftier bills to cover the costs of larger caskets and extra manpower to help out with the heavy lifting required.
Mr Massey said: “The number of heavier people we are laying to rest has been increasing every year. Ten years ago, I would say that ten out of every 100 people we buried would have been 16 or 17 stone or over, but nowadays it’s more like 25 or 30 out of every 100 people who are that size.
“Maybe once a month we’d a body weighing 25 or 30 stone or more and that’s where the extra costs come in. For a standard coffin, you’d be paying around €300 extra for the bigger size and then there’s extra labour costs too which could be another €300 to €400 more, because you mights need two or three more pallbearers.”
Rising obesity levels have also resulted in undertakers increasingly using reinforced trolleys to wheel bigger coffins into churches.
In some cases, traditional wakes have also been affected. Mr Massey recalled an occasion when a glazier had to be called to fit a super-sized coffin through the window as it would not fit in the narrow doorway.
Although the roughly 90cm-wide plots in modern graveyards are big enough to accommodate large bodies, a number of older cemeteries — such as Glasnevin in Dublin which has 60cm-wide plots — cannot accommodate bodies over 16 stone.
Meanwhile, it appears the growing problems facing undertakers are only going to get worse, as experts predict up to nine in ten Irish adults are likely to be obese in 15 years’ time.
A World Health Organization study last year found that some 89% of Irish men will be overweight by 2030, with nearly half obese — up from 74% overweight and 26% obese in 2010. The outlook for women is also alarming: Experts predict that 85% will be overweight and 57% obese by 2030.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved