But now, with one third of the world overweight or obese, a wide range of products is being supersized (or reinforced) to accommodate expanding waistlines.
Governments and companies all over the world are investing millions, if not billions, of dollars every year adapting to larger-sized people.
From hospitals and public transport systems to sports stadiums and funeral parlors, expensive modifications are being made to cope with widening girths.
For a reminder about how serious the global obesity epidemic really is, check out our report "World obesity levels surge."
Like our waistlines, the list of "supersized" stuff is growing fast.
Here are just seven examples.
Wider train seats
Many obese travelers struggle to squeeze into standard-sized train seats so some operators are doing what they can to accommodate them. New Jersey Transit, for example, plans to install 100 double-decker train cars over the next few years with seats 2.5 inches wider than the old 17.55 inch ones. Amtrak also plans to provide seats designed for “larger-sized passengers” on 25 new dining cars.
Given the health problems associated with obesity — diabetes, heart disease and cancer — it's not surprising that very overweight people often end up in hospital for treatment. To accommodate their larger-sized patients, hospitals are investing millions of dollars every yearretrofitting their facilities. Modifications include special lifts to move patients in and out of their beds, floor-mounted toilets instead of those hanging from the wall, reinforced sinks, wider doorways and stronger stretchers.
Ambulances are also being revamped to handle the weight of obese patients. Ambulance services in the UK, for example, have had to buy wider stretchers and modified lifting gear. They've also reinforced their vehicles to cope with super-heavy patients. Some have even bought ambulances specially designed to handle double-width trolley stretchers for patients up to 50 stone (that's 700 pounds).
Wider seats at sports stadiums
Even sports stadiums are now being designed with generously sized fans in mind. Supersized seats have been constructed for obese soccer fans attending the World Cup in Brazil this year. The seats are double the width of regular chairs and are also twice the standard ticket price.
As more and more people literally eat themselves to death, accommodating obese bodies has become a growing problem for those in the funeral business. Coffin manufacturers are now making oversized caskets for their larger customers. "One of the things we found is, people are not only getting wider, they're getting thicker and deeper,” one US casket maker told Al Jazeera. "So the caskets have to accommodate the belly.”
After squeezing an obese body into an extra-large coffin, the next challenge is to find enough space in a cemetery to put it. A local council in Britain has come up with a solution:supersized graves. Sutton Bridge and Wingland Parish Council in the eastern county of Lincolnshire plan to open a three-acre burial ground next year that will include 30 extra-wide plots measuring 9 foot by 8 foot, compared with the standard 9 foot by 4 foot. The graves will also be located near the road, so undertakers won't have to carry their heavy load as far.
Wider coffins may have solved one problem, but they created a new one for crematoriums designed to accommodate standard-sized caskets. Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council in central England, for example, has responded by installing a $20,000 lift table to handle the extra-large boxes. This came about after it was forced to turn away more than a dozen funerals of overweight people.