Suffolk: Demand for supersize school uniforms soars as obesity rises

WORRIES health experts today revealed Suffolk children as young as two are battling obesity – while a growing number of our pupils need supersize school uniforms.

Statistics from NHS Suffolk show obesity levels double by the time children leave primary school compared to rates in reception classes.

In 2010/11 8.3 per cent of children at reception age were obese – but by the time they reach Year 6 that figure had leapt to 16.8pc.

It comes as PMG Schoolwear in St Matthews Street said they have had to stock larger sizes, with the biggest – XXL – accommodating a 46in to 48in chest.

And William Coe, of Coes in Norwich Road, said his store stocked sizes up to a 44in waist.

“The demand for bigger sizes is growing and has been for a while,” said Mr Coe.

Teresa Elvin, deputy manager at PMG Schoolwear, said they regularly stock adult small and medium-sized clothes for primary school pupils.

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“We have noticed a trend in the last two years or so,” she said.

“Junior school children are needing bigger sizes. We used to stock up to age 13 for younger children but now we are stocking adult sizes for them.

“We are finding we have to order uniforms that are bigger than ever.

“We sell three different styles of trouser – slim fit, standard and sturdy fit, which has an elasticated waist. We sell more of those (sturdy fit) than any other style.”

She said children’s height was also increasing with taller pupils requiring longer length trousers.

“The highest inside leg length we stock is 34in and for a lot of boys that is too short,” she added. “We are going to have to find a supplier that stocks longer trousers.”

Tim Roberts, director of Live Well Suffolk – responsible for improving the health of people in Suffolk – said they run information and exercise sessions for children aged two to 18 to combat weight issues.

“It is worrying,” he said. “Most people know and agree obesity is a problem in children and adults.

“It is a sensitive issue. It isn’t always easy for us to engage with families, parents and carers about the issue.

“It can be hard to tell them their children are overweight.”

He said the main issue with childhood obesity surrounded eating habits – portion sizes in particular and a lack of physical activity.

“We live in an age where children play on their computers and get less exercise than they used to,” Mr Roberts added.

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