We're all familiar with the impact obesity is having on Australians' health, but few give a thought to the impact it is having on the funeral industry.
A nation-wide trend towards larger coffins is being replicated in Tasmania in line with our increasing waistlines.
Funeral directors say bigger bodies are posing challenges from the time they collect a body until burial. Millingtons coffin factory carpenters Sean and Jason Williams recently upped their standard coffin size to 58cm across the shoulders. The foot end has also been substantially widened. It's the fourth size increase since Sean started in the business about 14 years ago. They require custom made timber sheets from their supplier as the industry standard is no longer big enough.
"It goes to show that people were once a lot smaller. It's got to be wider through the feet to accommodate larger hips and thighs," Sean said.
The Williams brothers are frequently called on to make even larger coffins. Sean and Jason churn out about 18 coffins a week to keep up with the 900 needed each year by Millingtons. Millingtons general manager Scott Cranfield said bigger bodies were prompting funeral homes to rethink everything from the mortuary to the church trolleys used during a funeral service. "All of that becomes a big issue for us," he said. "Even things like whether we recommend family carry a person into the service. There are occupational health and safety flow on effects."
Millingtons is the only funeral director in southern Tasmania that makes its own coffins.