OBESE Scots are being buried rather than cremated – because their coffins are too big for traditional furnaces.
Funeral directors have warned that Britain’s obesity epidemic is having a growing impact on burial services as the average weight continues to rise.
Some cemetery owners are levying additional charges for larger coffins because burial plots are in short supply.
But families are forking out instead of making the long journeys to larger crematoriums.
The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) said that some companies are investing in bigger equipment as the percentage of overweight Scots increases.
This includes rise and fall decks in funeral vehicles, bariatric stretchers, larger-size mortuary refrigerators and dedicated lifting equipment.
“They are finding that they need to order increasing numbers of larger coffins each year as the number of obese persons passing away continues to increase,” a spokeswoman for NAFD said.
“Standard grave sizes generally accommodate most coffins, with the occasional exception, although some cemetery owners do levy an additional charge for the much larger American-style caskets.”
In the US, the average casket width is about 66cm, but manufacturers are turning out versions up to 40% wider to cater for larger bodies.
Traditionally, members of the family lower the coffin into the ground using cords attached to handles.
But it is becoming increasingly common for a hoist system to be use due to the extra weight.
One funeral firm, Anderson Maguire in Glasgow, said families are travelling to South Lanarkshire, almost an hour away, where facilities have been beefed up to accommodate larger people.
One of the most famous overweight burials was for Walter Hudson in 1991.
Walter, from New York, was the sixth most obese person in medical history, and holds the world record for the largest waist.
After his death, rescue workers had to cut a hole in the side of his house to remove his body. He was buried in a steel-reinforced coffin that was 54 inches (1.4m) wide and 40 inches (1m) deep.
A Scottish parliament briefing recently estimated the cost of obesity to be £4.6bn a year.
It said that the problem was putting a “significant and growing burden” on the nation.
The government has described the epidemic as one of the nation’s “next big health challenges”, with leading doctors suggesting a tax on sugar being the first step.