|As a ‘Fast Food
Nation’ we have an obesity epidemic approaching us, and here at US Funerals
Online we are being asked more frequently about what happens when someone
overweight opts for cremation. With over a third (35.7%) of the adult
population in the U.S. classed as clinically obese, and around 64% actually
classed as overweight, this is becoming a growing issue for the cremation
equipment, as it must be able
to handle the intensity of the heat over a longer period. Ideally
the crematory needs to conduct the cremation of an obese person first thing
in the morning when their cremation machine is still cold as this helps
to prevent overheating. You may remember the terrible news story
last year from Austria, where a crematory was set on fire whilst attempting
to cremate an obese body!2
When size DOES matter….
The simple answer is that yes
an obese person can be cremated, however, it can prove more complex and
costly to cremate someone who is larger than average in size. Cremating
an overweight body does require a larger cremation chamber or retort, and
this can be one of the first obstacles that a family may face. Not
every crematory or funeral home will have a large enough chamber to accommodate
an obese body. This can mean that the deceased has to be transferred
to a crematory that can handle overweight cases. This can, of course,
incur additional transportation costs.
A human body has a body mass
index (BMI) which is generally used to measure how much fat we carry.
Fat is obviously more combustible, so the higher the fat percentage of
a body, the faster and more intensely it will burn. Every pound of
lean tissue gives out approximately 1,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units),
but every pound of fatty tissue emits 20,000 BTUs. It generally takes
about three hours to conduct a standard cremation, but a body with excessive
fatty tissue can take much longer to cremate. This poses safety issues
for the cremation
The crematory operative
will also have to be knowledgeable in how to adjust controls to accommodate
different timer settings according to the weight of the deceased.
How are funeral homes and crematories
adapting to meet this need of obese people?
The first thing that some funeral
homes and crematories are doing is installing a wider cremation chamber
or retort, enabling them to cremate overweight cases. A standard
cremation chamber door once used to measure 33 inches – now XL cremation
machines with openings as wide as 43 and 52 inches are available.
These supersize machines can perform a cremation at 150 pounds per hour
and cater for bodies up to 1000 pounds!
Funeral homes are also adapting
their pricing structure. A ‘standard’ cremation price will cater
for a deceased person up to 300 pounds. Some funeral homes are now
specifying an incremental surcharge for an oversize cremation – by weight.
For example, they may charge a fee of approximately $50 for a body over
300 pounds, and a further $50 for each 100-pound excess.
So how much more will an oversize
An oversize cremation is likely
to cost you at least $100 - $500 more than a standard cremation.
The additional costs that you could incur are:
As there are limited resources
for oversize cremation at present, we may see these additional costs reduce
as more facilities become available.
Transportation costs if the
deceased has to be transported to nearest oversize crematory facility (this
is generally an additional per mile mileage fee)
Extra cost for an oversize cremation
Excess weight cremation charge
With government watchdogs
forecasting that over 50% of the U.S. population could be clinically obese
by 2030, and the cremation rate forecast to rise to 60% by 2025, there
certainly is going to be more demand for oversize cremation facilities.
If you are planning a cremation
for someone who weighs over 300 pounds, you do need to ensure you specify
this when making arrangements. You need to ensure that the funeral
company can actually facilitate an oversize cremation, and that you get
an accurate price quote.
||Expert Author: Sara
Sara is the Editor in Chief
for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death
care industry in the US for the last 5 years.
Memorials – nationwide network of low cost cremation providers
1 CDC.gov: Data & Statistics
Dead Woman’s Body Fat Causes Crematorium Blaze