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Bigger bodies forcing coroners to order larger body bags

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Morbid obesity in America is leading to a morbid end-of-life problem for coroners across the country. With more than one third of U.S. adults overweight, standard body bags are too often too small to do the job. Jenna Jackson looks at one unexpected growing cost associated with ever-growing waistlines. Coroner are handling more obese people. As a result, they’ve had to upgrade to larger body bags.

“It’s not a Fremont County problem,” says Mark Stratmoen, Fremont County Wyoming Coroner. “It’s not a Wyoming problem, it’s a national problem. We order larger capacity things because that’s now the standard size that’s being offered.”

The body bags they buy now are eight feet by three and a half. That means that this body bag here can fit somebody six feet in circumference.

Dr. David Bender from the Wind River Clinic says back in the 1980’s and 1990’s there were only a few states where 15 percent of the population would fit the category or the diagnosis of obesity and now there are no states that are less than 30-percent that fit the criteria and there are 12 states where more than 40-percent of the state fits the criteria for obesity.

Fremont county’s obesity rate is around 26 percent.

Bender says the most prominent cause is eating too much sugar and starch and considers sugar an addictive substance.

“An addicting substance is something that we all know is bad for us, but some people have a very difficult time avoiding going out and consuming,” said Bender.

The growing epidemic is causing stress for the coroner’s deputies.

Stratmoen says material costs are more expensive obviously, it puts more stress on doing the job, we have to have more assistance sometimes when doing a recovery.

Over the years, Bender says he’s seeing patients get younger and younger. “It has been projected with the current diabetes epidemic in children and obesity epidemic that this will be the first generation that may not live as long as preceding generations due to health issues associated with this problem.”