Graves made bigger to cope with chubby corpses

The council is offering graves as wide as 5.5 metres for the same price as a standard single plot. Picture: Dan Phillips
The council is offering graves as wide as 5.5 metres for the same price as a standard single plot. Picture: Dan Phillips
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GRAVES are becoming wider as crematoria are being stretched to cope with the expanding waistlines of the Capital’s dead.

City funeral chiefs today revealed that burial plots were becoming broader amid soaring obesity rates with double plots now being sold at the same price as singles to ease the strain on mourners’ 

And it emerged furnaces within Mortonhall Crematorium are currently being made bigger to cater for bulkier corpses.

A council source admitted burial plot dimensions have been increasing gradually over the last century to accommodate taller bodies but added that the move to double burial plots and larger crematoriums were in response to heavier remains.

Huge grave sites up to 5.5 metres wide are now offered within council cemeteries at a cost of £1091 – the same price as a standard plot – but it is understood no-one has yet taken up the option.

One funeral director, with three decades of experience, said the prevalence of larger coffins and remains were “on the rise”.

“There are always occasions where you have to use very large coffins,” he said. “People are taller these days than even 30 years ago and it tells on the back sometimes.

“People have got heavier but perhaps it’s more muscle than anything else.”

In July, the News told how levels of obesity in Lothian hit record levels with almost six out of ten adults now diagnosed as overweight or obese – a rise of more than 13 per cent in just eight years.

A major study into the health of the region also showed a huge physical and mental health gap between those living in the richest and the poorest areas.

Chris Oliver, a top city surgeon who lost 12 stone after he had a gastric band fitted in 2007, said he was “not surprised” by the enforced enlargement of burial sites and furnaces to cater for demand given the “growing issue of obesity”.

He said: “It’s a national problem that people are getting bigger and will take up more space in a burial plot.

“This is what’s going to happen when people get bigger.

“I’m sure this will become more prevalent and there will probably be a new standard size. It’s very sad but we live in an obese society and we must do as much as we can to 
counteract obesity.

“We have to live more healthily so we don’t have to have such a big casket.”

A council spokeswoman said: “It’s very important that our services meet the needs of people in the city and that includes increasing the provision of larger burial plots.

“We make sure that larger plots are available across all of our cemeteries when required, so that families do not find themselves in the position of having to pay for two plots side-by-side, as is the case in some private burial grounds.”

Big changes at cemeteries

GRAVE diggers have traditionally excavated sites at seven feet lengthways by 32 inches in width – but these dimensions have slowly been creeping upwards.

For people exceeding these measurements, a double burial plot may seem like the final indignation but it is becoming increasingly commonplace at some cemeteries, with council-run services now providing the larger sites at no extra cost.

It is understood private graveyards charge a fee for encroaching into another site.