School trousers with 50-inch waist now being sold to cater for obese pupils
SUPER-SIZE school uniforms are now being sold with 50inch waistlines to cope with Ireland's spiralling obesity problem.
And the situation is so critical that some schools have had to order specially made large classroom tables and chairs.
Approximately one in four primary school children is now overweight or obese. As a result, uniform suppliers have been steadily increasing the size of waistlines, shirt collars, and bust width, to cope with rapidly changing demand.
Longstanding Dublin uniform suppliers, Grants of Manor Street, service more than 40 primary and post primary schools in the capital, as well as in Kildare and Wicklow. They are now selling trousers for primary school students which cater for up to a 40-inch waist.
This means there are 11 and 12-year-olds with a waistline in excess of three feet.
Eric Craig, who operates a clothes shop in Arklow, sells trousers which can have a waist of up to 50 inches for boys.
"We also have uniform kilts for girls up to 38 inches - we'd sell a few of those each year," he told the Irish Independent. "I've provided for children in primary school with 38 inch waists. I had a child one year looking for a 40-inch, and another some years ago with a 44-inch waist.
"These uniforms would fit grown men - I'm a big fella and they'd fit me," he said.
A spokesperson for the Schoolwear House company, said it is now "common" to provide boy's trousers with a 40-inch waist.
They have 10 orders this coming academic year for shirts with a neck size of 18 - and 20 parents have already purchased shirts with a neck size of 17.5. They also sell jumpers for a chest up to 50 inches and school jackets come in sizes up to XXXL.
Meanwhile, Maria Doyle, principal of the 310-pupil Our Lady of Mercy Senior Primary School in Waterford, has had to order bigger size seats and desks, to accommodate plus-size students who won't fit on standard size furniture. She also said children wearing jumpers with a chest size of up to 50 in "wouldn't be unusual''.
She suggested one consolation, is that the children who must avail of larger classroom seats and tables, aren't necessarily embarrassed by their size. "But it does become an issue is when they take part in something like swimming lessons," she told the Irish Independent.
"They get breathless before the others and are not as agile." She also said that as a result of rising obesity levels an increased number of children now require inhalers.
Weight-loss specialist Dr Eva Orsmond says many parents of overweight and obese children are "absolutely living in denial"
"There is a saying that if a parent thinks their child is overweight or slightly plump - the probability is that the child is already obese. A kid really shouldn't have any tummy, and if they do, that's a serious warning sign,'' she added.
There are currently over 100,000 obese children in the country - and 300,000 weigh more than they should for their age.