Today’s Americans are the fattest people in world history. So … we did it! We’re number one! USA! USA!
This has created some problems for us, though. Many of the products we use on an everyday basis weren’t designed for such a fat user base. What can we do about it?
We certainly can’t lose weight. Nope. Instead, we’ve decided to redesign many of these products to accommodate our new and improved (improved being a very, very subjective term) bodies.
Below, we run down five products that you probably didn’t know now come in XXL, XXXL and even “jumbo” versions. Take a quick breather, chug a 20-ounce soda and read on.
One of the leading causes of obesity in America is a lack of physical exercise. Many of us — including yours truly — spend the vast majority of our time metaphorically chained to our desks.
The chairs in most office supply stores today are only designed to support about 250 or 300 pounds of weight. If you’ve looked around your office lately, there’s a good chance you’re now realizing that’s not enough support.
Some companies have begun to manufacture heavy-duty office chairs that support weights in excess of 500 pounds — and these companies are reporting that these specialty chairs are flying off the shelves (well, at least moving off the shelves as quickly as something that can support 500 pounds of human meat can move).
Faced with increased complaints from potential customers who were unable to find anything that fit, many clothing retailers have been forced to start selling clothing in sizes previously thought to be laughably big. Heck, some are still laughably big — I break out in giggles every time I see XXXL underwear.
Or, in the case of stores like The Gap, they’ve simply altered how their various sizes fit. For instance, a size 14 at The Gap only five years ago fit someone with a 29-inch waist and 39-inch hips. Today, a size 14 fits a 29.5-inch waist and 40-inch hips.
This is called “vanity sizing” and it’s nothing new. In fact, what most stores agree is a size four today was about a size eight only 20 or so years ago.
But keep telling yourself you haven’t gained a pound!
Early this year, ABC News reported some hospitals have spent millions of dollars upgrading their beds to accommodate larger patients. Considering the myriad health problems that accompany obesity, this is a trend that’s very likely to continue.
Interestingly, these expensive upgrades could actually be a wise investment for some hospitals.
Over 200,000 weight loss surgeries are performed every year. With the average surgery costing roughly $25,000, that’s a lot of money being generated. By making the surgery process as comfortable as possible — such as by offering extra-large beds — hospitals might actually stand to gain a competitive advantage and increase revenue.
Amusement park rides
It’s no longer such a small, small world.
Disneyland’s classic (and oddly mesmerizing and intensely creepy) “It’s a Small World” ride was designed and built back in the early 1960s, a time when the average adult male weighed less than 180 pounds.
As you might have guessed, that became a bit of a problem. Hefty passengers were causing the ride, which consists of small boats traveling along a shallow, man-made river, to get stuck in a few locations along the course.
In 2007, Disneyland officials made the difficult decision to shut down the ride and perform extensive renovations. The river was deepened and more buoyant boats were introduced.
Similar adjustments have been made at amusement parks all over the country.
The obesity epidemic is leading to millions of deaths due to heart disease, diabetes and other weight-related illnesses. This, in turn, has necessitated a need for more and bigger caskets.
Some funeral homes now offer caskets over 50 inches wide — more than twice as wide as the standard size.
The aptly named Goliath Casket, which can hold up to 700 pounds comfortably (or as comfortable as a dead person can be, at least) sold about one unit per year when it was introduced in the 1980s. Today, it sells about six every month.
These jumbo caskets aren’t cheap — some sell for more than $3,000. Oh, and they often require the purchase of two adjacent grave plots.
So… who’s hungry now?