America’s Weight Gain Has Supersized Some Surprising Things

ThinkstockHere's weighty news: Americans' expanding waistlines have caused some alarming beefing-up in places you wouldn't expect.

Ambulances: American Medical Response, the largest ambulance company in the United States, introduced bariatric ambulances in 2001. Their cots can accommodate up to 1,600 pounds, compared with older models that hold only up to 800 pounds.

PLUS: 13+ Things Facebook Won't Tell You >>

Caskets: A standard-size casket for adults used to be 24 inches wide, but 28-inch-wide models are becoming more common, according to the Casket & Funeral Supply Association of America (CFSA), a trade association for the funeral-supply industry, based in Lake Bluff, Illinois. One company, Goliath Casket, began making 29-inch caskets in the 1980s (the new models hold up to 1,000 pounds) but sold only about one per year. Now they ship half a dozen oversize models every month.

PLUS: 50 Secrets Your Surgeon Won't Tell You >>


Fuel Usage: Extra pounds cause cars, trucks, and planes to use more gasoline and jet fuel. Americans consume at least one billion more gallons of fuel today than they would if they weighed what they did on average in 1960.

CT Scanners: Imaging companies such as Siemens and General Electric are building new equipment to accommodate Americans' growing girths. Siemens's CT scanner went from a 60-centimeter (23.6-inch) diameter in 1997 to an 80-centimeter (31.5-inch) diameter in 2011, a 25 percent increase.

PLUS: 22 Most-Craved Regional Foods >>


Santa Costumes: In 1996, santasuits.com's largest offering was size 2X, and oversize suits accounted for just 12 percent of sales. Today, santasuits.com estimates that size 3X suits account for up to 20 percent of sales.

PLUS: 3 Fat Releasing Foods to Lose Weight Fast >>


What Hasn't Changed but Needs to: Airline Seats Based on testing standards designed almost 50 years ago, airline seats are meant to restrain a 170-pound passenger, but today the average American man weighs 195 pounds, and the average woman, 165. These seats may not be as safe for heavy passengers during a crash.

from Reader's Digest | February 2013