Iowa’s growing obesity problem is forcing changes in the funeral industry. A Cedar Rapids-based company, Mortuary Lift Company, sells body lifts capable of raising and lowering bodies and caskets weighing up to 1,000 pounds. Katie Hill’s company has grown 20% a year.
Just this year, she sold more than 100 lifts in the United States and abroad. “It started out, you know, selling three machines a year on up, and now we’re actually producing quite a bit,” Hill said.
John Linge, president of Cedar Memorial Cemetery and Funeral Home in Cedar Rapids, says larger loved ones also present a challenge for burial. “The funeral industry has had to respond by providing caskets, mausoleum crypts and burial vaults that will accommodate larger individuals,” Linge said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28% of Iowans are obese. That number has doubled in the past 20 years. The Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America reports oversized caskets may cost 15 to 25% more, but Linge says they help families visualize their loved ones in comfort.
By Erin Johnson, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids