Business Grows with Obesity Problem

January 19, 2012
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LYNN, Ind. (WANE) – An Indiana casket maker, specializing in oversize caskets, says business is booming along with America’s obesity epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, close to 34% of American adults are obese. And when those people die, there aren’t many options for burial. That’s where Keith Davis, owner of Goliath Casket in Lynn, Indiana, steps in.

“It is terribly, terribly, sad,” said Davis. “You’re talking about something that’s going to have to be moved with some kind of machinery.”

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Goliath Casket is the only casket manufacturer in the country that builds 52 inch caskets – the largest size available.

In fact, its caskets have been featured on programs like Oprah and Jaimie Oliver’s Food Revolution .

Davis says, the growing obesity problem gave birth to the business some 25 years ago. Now, it has made a big name in a small niche.

“20 years ago, no one was making oversized caskets,” explains Davis. “Now, all of the major manufacturers in the U.S. make a line of oversized caskets. They just don’t make them as large as we do.”

Five people weld metal and sew fabric to produce about 16 caskets a month. The largest – 52 inches wide – can hold more than a thousand pounds. The shop has made an even bigger casket before. In 2005, workers built a 7 ft x 7 ft coffin for a man who had passed away in Alaska.

Davis says he wouldn’t be surprised if the caskets continue to grow with the obesity epidemic, which is why business is booming.

“The problem is people are getting larger. The volume is getting tremendous,” said Davis. “The overall need for oversized caskets goes up every year. Probably a good 10, 15, 20%.”

Besides having overweight loved ones, families who come to Davis have few other options. Cremation can be dangerous, because of the amount of body fat that would be burned. Davis says he’s hoping to offer a dignified way to find closure.

“They (families) want the same dignity, the same integrity, the same closure and celebration of life for their loved one that you and I would want.”

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