Video: Catering to the obese

By Tom Costello Correspondent
NBC News
updated 6/23/2006 7:22:22 PM ET 2006-06-23T23:22:22

Bonnie Badore wanted to hold her grandchildren, so she signed up for gastric bypass surgery but worried about the hospital bed.

"I don't fit at all," Badore says. "I have to hang on to the sides because I just don't fit. And it's kind of sad."

Obesity is an increasing problem — forcing the nation's health care system into its own extreme makeover.

At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston they've bought bigger beds, installed larger shower stalls and even widened doorways.

"What we are trying to do is not make the people fit the furniture, we are trying to make the furniture and the facilities fit the needs of our patients," says Dr. Daniel Jones.

Today, 60 million Americans are obese. By 2013, that number is expected to hit 88 million.

"It's too large a market for them not to notice and not to cater to," says Roberta Clarke, a marketing professor at Boston University. '"It's a market that's waiting to be served."

Toyota's noticed — adding three inches more width to its RAV4 seats.

Select Comfort has added the "Grand King" bed — 30 percent larger.

And fashion designers are also tapping into the plus-sized market. In the last year alone, sales are up 7 percent to $19 billion. The Gap, Banana Republic, Polo, Anne Taylor — all are expanding their plus-size lines.

The women running America, says designer Dana Buchman, are not on the Paris catwalk.

"My mission as a designer is to dress the real women of America and women that can come in all different heights and all different shapes and all different sizes," she says.

And entrepreneur Tim Barry sees opportunity. His Web site, supersizeworld.com, stocks it all. From super-sized towels to extra big watchbands. Even the hot-selling "Big John" toilet seat, with a capacity of 1,200 pounds.

"For 2006, we expect to do about $1 million in revenue," Barry says.

There's even a super-sized casket. As America cashes in — on obesity.

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