Hospitals, Chairs, Buses, Toilets, Caskets Redesigned to Accommodate Obese People


Shane's company does a brisk business selling models such as the Siltec Model WS1000, which measure up to 1,000 pounds of body weight. Some are sold to TV production companies whose programs focus on people needing to lose big.

It isn't just a matter of registering larger numbers; a well-designed obesity or "bariatric" scale has a significantly roomier platform to accommodate larger feet plus support bars or arm rests. Shane noted that the new specialty scales are an improvement over those of a decade ago, when hospitals weighed in heftier patients on basement laundry scales.


Extreme obesity complicates the simplest things, even something as basic as going to the bathroom. Enter Big John, makers of oversize toilet seats. They cater to the more than 72 million overweight Americans by offering generously padded seats that are 19 inches wide and 2 inches taller than the standard seat, which measures 14 inches wide. They have a weight capacity of 1,200 pounds.

Big John also sells supports that can be placed under the bowl to bolster the typical wall hung toilet, which has been known to crack or collapse under heavy loads. Since the company started making the seats in 2004, revenue has skyrocketed, increasing 50 percent every year, according to the company.

Pair that with an Ideaworks Long Reach Comfort Wipe, a 16-inch extender wand that holds toilet paper for those who can't quite make the reach around. It sells for $7.99-$12.99 on Amazon, and reviewers give it four out of five stars, noting that it's a terrific product once you get over the learning curve and are OK with having to replace it every few months.


Even in death, some people require extra leg room. Laurens Fish, director of the Weed-Corley Fish Funeral Home near Austin, Texas, said he'd begun selling caskets up to 54 inches wide, more than double the size of the standard 24-inch width. When Goliath Casket began producing triple-wide caskets, which hold up to 700 pounds comfortably, in the late 1980s, it sold an average of one per year. Now it ships half a dozen models a month.

As in life, having some extra girth makes death more expensive too. Super-size caskets carry a price tag of up to $3,000 more than the average-priced casket. If a larger plot and concrete vault are required, that can add $1,000 to burial costs. "When a casket is really large," Fish said, "you may be required to buy two plots."

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