They didn't mention this, but I bet there's great money to be made in fried-twinkie franchises...
The quote below specifies they have a lot of money to spend -- especially given that, via insurance and government programs, we're subsidizing the costs of the consequences of their choices, at least healthwise.
There's big money to be made catering to the obese with plus-size kayaks and oversized coffins.
October 7, 2003: 3:29 PM EDT
NEW YORK (Reuters) - American fast-food chains are introducing such menu items as salads and major food manufacturers are trimming portion sizes, but not everyone has joined the fight against obesity.
An increasing number of entrepreneurs have discovered there's big money to be made by catering to Americans' bulging waistlines -- without seeking to trim them down.
It's big business.
Freedom Paradise, a 112-room resort south of Cancun, Mexico, bills itself as the world's first resort designed for obese people. Its amenities include large armless chairs, wide steps with railings in swimming pools, walk-in showers instead of bathtubs, stronger hammocks, and a staff steeped in sensitivity training.
Nearly one third of American adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2000, more than 300 million adults in the world were obese and one billion were overweight, according to the World Health Organization.
"We are no longer a niche market. Overweight people are the majority in this country," said 324-lb Mindy Sommers, referring to the 64 percent of Americans who are overweight. "Businesses that don't cater to us are stupid. There are a lot of us, and we have a lot of money to spend."
An expanding obese population is providing lots of demand for businesses that supply things that are plus-size -- from larger towels to larger beds, larger clothes to larger jewelry, larger furniture to larger coffins.
Amplestuff.com, an online retailer, sells nearly everything to the obese market, including seat belt extenders, larger umbrellas, larger clothing hangers, larger towels and weighing scales that can accommodate up to 1,000 lbs.
Kelly Bliss, who calls herself "the nation's leader in fitness for very large people," sells video tapes that feature workouts for the obese. All her tapes are geared toward larger people, with one that features a 500-lb woman doing workouts while sitting.
Bliss is also the creator of Plussizeyellowpages.com, a resource that lists a range of services for the larger population, from home furnishings to plus-size kayaks.
Businesses providing products for the larger population comprise a multibillion-dollar industry, said Gary Epstein, CEO of Euro RSCG Tatham, a global communications group, which recently released a study on obesity.
Plus-size clothing alone brings in $17 billion a year.
Fatcities.com, a Web-based company that sells a wide variety of items designed for the plus-size population, advertises a $999 couch designed to accommodate 550-lb users. It has wider and deeper dimensions than a regular couch, eight legs to support and balance the weight, and a firm foam seat to prevent sagging.
"A woman wrote to us and said that her 350-pound son sat on her patio furniture and it broke," said Graziella Ferrante, who owns Fatcities.com. She then contacted a furniture company and partnered with it to sell the innovative pieces.
"It was the first of its kind," said Ferrante.
The obese population has increased worldwide by 100 million between 1995 and 2000, according to the World Health Organization.
Batesville Casket Co., owned by Hillenbrand Industries, has seen nearly a 20 percent growth in sales of oversized coffins in the past five years, said Jo Weigel, director of communications for the company.
An oversized casket can cost double the amount of a regular casket at funeral homes, according to Dean Magliocca, owner of FuneralDepot.com, the largest online casket provider.
"What we need is a solution to the obesity, but what we have is people feeding the problem to make money off the obese people," said Epstein of Euro RSCG Tatham. "Sadly, this is to be expected in a capitalistic economy."
"I don't look at it that way," said Ferrante of Fatcities.com. "The fact of the matter is that we're big, and we need the same things that thin people do."
Bliss, Sommers and Ferrante are going together to visit Freedom Paradise, the size-friendly Mexican resort, this month.
"I've tried to fight my self-consciousness and go to a beach for many years," Sommers said. "Now I can just go and have a good time."