Thursday, October 20, 2005

-----Original Message-----

From: Shaun

Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 9:57 AM

To: Full-Time

Subject: Donuts

There's lots of donuts by the coffee machine, I brought a bunch and Michelle did too. Eat some.

From: Mike

Sent: Thursday, October 20, 2005 10:05 AM

To: Shaun; Full-Time

Subject: RE: Donuts

Supersized America forces changes on boats, planes

October 18, 2005

Supersized Americans aren't just busting out of their belt sizes. They're forcing a reexamination of minimum weight standards for everything from hospital beds to cargo in small planes and passengers on ships.

Even caskets and cemetery vaults are coming in larger sizes to accommodate today's larger American.

There's no question Americans are getting fatter. About 65 percent of Americans are overweight, up from 46 percent in the 1970s, and a Rand Corp. study says the number of adults who are extremely obese - more than 100 pounds overweight - has quadrupled since 1986 to about 4 million people.

That extra heft is not only requiring new standards for the width of seats in airplanes and football stadiums, but also the width of doors and size of rooms in hospitals.

It's also making boats and planes dangerously top-heavy.

The National Transportation Safety Board cites the March 6, 2004, capsizing of the Lady D, a 36-foot water taxi in Baltimore Harbor, in which five people drowned.

The Lady D was carrying only 25 people, no more than its limit. But the NSTB added the weight of all aboard and concluded that the boat was 700 pounds over its 3,500-pound capacity when it capsized.

NTSB Chairman Ellen Engleman Conners said the problem is the Coast Guard set its standards in the 1960s, when the average passenger weight was calculated at 140 pounds.

"Average adult weights have increased by nearly 25 pounds in the last 40 years," she said, urging the Coast Guard to come up with new standards.

Angela McArdle, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said the agency is taking another look at its 40-year-old standards and has contracted for a research project to come up with recommendations. "It's in study now," she said, noting the regulations could affect passenger loads in about 20,000 vessels operating in America's coastlines that come under Coast Guard jurisdiction.

After a boat carrying 47 elderly passengers capsized on Lake George this month, New York Gov. George Pataki directed state park officials to adjust the weight limits on boats in New York's parks from the 140-pound average to 174 pounds to reflect the changing dimensions of the average American.

The NTSB said outdated weight standards also played a role in the 2003 commuter plane crash that killed 21 people in Charlotte, N.C. The Federal Aviation Administration has revised its weight standards for aircraft, requiring aircraft owners to use 174 pounds as the average weight of passengers instead of 160.

The increased weight of Americans has prompted other changes. Elevator manufacturers no longer install passenger limits in elevator cabs, but instead set gross weight limits for what elevators can carry.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington interest group that campaigns against fatty food and sugary sodas, has compiled a list of other routine changes a fatter society has required. Thanks to vanity sizing, the group notes that today's size 10 for women was sold as a size 14 in the 1940s and sales of plus-size clothing for women amount to a quarter of clothing sales.

The store chain Casual Male Big & Tall said surveys found that men don't particularly like the Big & Tall label and so is changing the store name to Casual Male XL.

Big changes also are being made to hospital equipment. Hill-Rom, a Batesville, Ind., supplier of health-care equipment that is part of Hillenbrand Industries, says it is offering an array of new equipment for use in bariatric medicine - the treatment of obesity.

Suzanne Bish, marketing manager for the company, said hospitals are increasingly buying instead of renting items like the 1,000-pound capacity beds Hill-Rom makes.

"With the explosion we've seen in the patients, there's a demand for more bariatric products," she said. She said hospitals need the larger beds, which are 40 inches to 50 inches wide, to handle the widest and heaviest patients weighing 300 pounds and 400 pounds.

She said it's not just the patients who need the wider beds and wider seats, but the nurses and other health-care workers need larger equipment and stronger stretchers so they can conduct their routine tasks.

Bish said the company also advises hospitals in establishing wards for bariatric medicine patients, who require larger rooms for the larger equipment, larger doors to get through and different styles of bathroom equipment. "Wall mounted toilets and sinks aren't good," she said.

For end-of-life considerations, Batesville Caskets last year launched its "Dimensions" line of supersized burial caskets.

Joe Weigel, spokesman for the company, said demand from funeral homes last year for oversized caskets continued to increase. Weigel said casket size has been traditionally limited by the 30-inch-wide vaults into which they are finally placed. Oversized vaults are now made that can accommodate 32-inch-wide caskets.

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