Plus-Size Americans Spur Growth in Oversized Caskets

Obesity in America is an epidemic.  According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three Americans are either overweight or obese.  While that impacts many parts of a persons life, it also makes an impact after life as well.

Gerald Butler is the manager and funeral director of Owens & Brumley. For more than three decades he's worked in the funeral business. Over the past several years he's noticed a change in plus-size casket burials.

"We do about the same a couple every year," said Butler.  "People are getting bigger even some of the big healthy athletes that we have now."

So big in fact that they keep a supply of over size coffins at their location in Burk, should the need rise even more.

"In my past experience with Owens & Brumley we have used several times caskets much larger than a 30 inch even to a 33 or 34 inch," said Butler.
A typical size is 24 to 26 inches wide. While that may not seem like a lot it is.  The cost increases as the width of the coffin does, anywhere from one to three times as much.

"It could be as much from $1,100 on a steel casket on up to $3,200."

A bigger casket also requires a larger vault.

"If the cemetery requires an outer burial container like a concrete box or a vault, you will pay more for that box because it is oversized," said Butler.

It not only has the family paying more out of their pocket, but the issue trickles down to the cemetery as well.

"At cemeteries they may have to have a different lowering device to lower the casket."

"Sometimes we have the back hoe to set the coffin into the ground depending on the container," said Kevin Barton, Cemetery Supervisor with the city of Wichita Falls.

He says while the cost for the plot remains the same, that could change in the future should they see a dramatic increase in plus size burials.  Barton says in the past, a bigger casket took more room away from another family member to be buried, but that is rare and also says the extra equipment used in an over sized burial requires more hands.

"Whenever it comes to larger people we have to bring in two to three more people, to help lift that casket and move it around to where were need it," said Barton.

Since the expansion on our waists started increasing more than a decade ago some funeral homes built before then, like Owens & Brumley, have had to deal with a few mishaps.

"Since I have been here we have only had one casket that I remember we couldn't even get in the building," said Butler.

He says they held a nice and comfortable service outside, but expects funeral homes to look at an expansion of their own.

"I think funeral homes could look in the future to where they design their hallways and doorways to accommodate bigger caskets."

For families going through a loss the discussion of planning a funeral is never easy, but add on top of that an extra cost and Butler says it can be quite an insult.

"When the families do come in and we discuss this with them you want to say don't kill the messenger."

We reached out to other funeral homes in the area.  Some say there has been a major increase in plus size burials others say while they do have them it has not increased.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 28.7 percent of Texans are obese and that leads to many health problems.

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
  • Stroke
  • Liver and Gallbladder disease
  • Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
  • Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal menses, infertility)

For more information on obesity data click here.

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.