Ireland's ever-expanding waistline is proving costly for bereaved families, with undertakers noting a surge in orders for oversized coffins.

Funeral directors say the trend is consistent with the country's well-documented rising obesity levels, with demand for bigger coffins having increased every year for the past decade.

Keith Massey, who runs Rom Massey & Sons funeral directors in Dublin, said over one in four people he lays to rest are now obese, up from one in 10 just a decade ago.

Of the obese corpses, at least one a month is over 25 stone (350 pounds), leaving families with heftier bills to cover the costs of larger caskets and extra manpower to help out with the heavy lifting required.

"The number of heavier people we are laying to rest has been increasing every year. Ten years ago, I would say that 10 out of every 100 people we buried would have been 16 or 17 stone or over, but nowadays it's more like 25 or 30 out of every 100 people who are that size,” he said.

"Maybe once a month we'd a body weighing 25 or 30 stone or more and that's where the extra costs come in. For a standard coffin, you'd be paying around $300 extra for the bigger size and then there's extra labor costs too which could be another $300 to $400 more, because you might need two or three more pallbearers."

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Rising obesity levels have also resulted in undertakers increasingly using reinforced trolleys to wheel bigger coffins into churches.

In some cases traditional wakes have been affected too, with Massey recalling an occasion when a glazier had to be called in to fit a super-sized coffin through the window, as it wouldn't fit through the narrow doorway.

And although the three-foot wide plots in modern graveyards are big enough to accommodate fat bodies, a number of older cemeteries, such as Glasnevin in north Dublin which has two-foot wide plots, cannot accommodate bodies over 16 stone.

Meanwhile, it appears the growing problems facing undertakers are only going to get worse, as experts predict up to nine in 10 Irish adults are likely to be obese in 15 years.

A World Health Organization study last year found that some 89 percent of Irish men will be overweight by 2030, and nearly half obese, up from 74 per cent overweight and 26 percent obese in 2010.

The outlook for Irish women is also alarming, with experts predicting that 85 percent will be overweight and 57 percent obese by 2030.

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