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Obesity Reduces Ferry Passenger Capacity

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Obesity Reduces Ferry Passenger Capacity

Coast Guard rules mean that Washington State Ferries is reducing passenger capacity on their vessels. A dramatic increase in obesity in the US is the reason why.

Sailing into the sunset got a bit more romantic—or at least less crowded—on Washington State Ferries. New Coast Guard stability rules that took effect December 1, 2011, raised the estimated weight of the average adult passenger to 185 lb (84 kg) from 160 lb (73 kg). That means a ferry that had a 2,000 passenger capacity will now carry only 1,750 passengers.

As Americans have grown in girth over the past 20 years, the consequences of obesity have expanded beyond personal health to public safety concerns. The growing problem of obesity in the US affects one-third of the adult population, according to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the US and one of the four largest in the world. Their ships transport more than 22 million passengers a year across Puget Sound and through the San Juan Islands to BC.

Fast ferry food

The ferries have been accused of contributing to the obesity problem. Their galleys sell fast foods such as hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken strips.

In Canada BC Ferries is also one of the largest ferry systems in the world, carrying more than 20 million passengers and 8 million vehicles each year. A perusal of their onboard food offerings reveals that BC Ferries offers the Healthy Choices Program in conjunction with the Heart & Stroke Foundation. While fast food choices are available, diners can also choose heart-healthy baked wild BC salmon, rice bowls, and salads.

The personal price of obesity

There’s no word on whether Washington State Ferries will increase rates to make up for the shortfall created by less passengers. But there’s a personal price to pay for obesity—whether it’s an increased risk of high blood pressure; heart disease; diabetes; endometrial, breast, and colon cancers; sleep apnea; and osteoarthritis.

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