Super-size uniforms now with 50-inch waist for schoolboys
Super-size uniforms are now being sold with 46-inch waistlines to primary school children as our child and teen obesity crisis continues to escalate.
This means there are 11- and 12-year-olds with a waistline well in excess of three feet.
One in four, or 90,000 children, in Ireland is now either overweight or obese.
It means uniform suppliers have been steadily increasing waistline size, shirt collars, and bust width to meet a growing demand.
Retailers say 20 years ago an 11-year-old boy would wear a blazer size 30 to 34ins.
But with the back-to-school rush in full swing, a growing number of young pupils now require extra large fittings.
Derek Eakin, from Hunter clothing distributors, confirmed sizes have gotten significantly larger in recent years.
"For primary school, we now stock boys' trousers with up to a 46-inch waist.
"That's in primary - they're up to 11 years of age.
"A few years ago, we started off by stocking up to 32 inches - and then we went to a 36-inch waist. Now, we carry up to 46 inches.
"Specialist skirts for girls are the same. They could be looking for a 44 or 46 waist -some of them are in primary."
Secondary school jackets come in sizes up to XXXL.
"We stock school shirts up to 19-inch in a collar," he added.
Eric Craig, who operates a clothes shop in Arklow, sells shirts with a neck size of 18.
He also stocks trousers which can have a waist of up to 50 inches for boys.
Vincent Sammon, of Savi Clothing, which supplies uniforms directly to schools in Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare and Kilkenny, said this was the first year he had to order three size 48-inch chest sports jerseys for first-year boys.
"This year has been a particularly large year.
"I do kilts for senior girls' schools, and this was the first year that a 42-inch was ordered. It was subsequently reduced to a 38 as she was oversized. It was for a first-year student."
This year he has had 10 orders for 40-inch kilts.
"Normally, I would have one. Sometimes the girls don't show up for the fittings, and the mother is sent down.
"The standard for a first-year kid coming into the senior cycle is 26 or 28 inches.
"It fluctuates, but I haven't seen a jump like this in quite a while.
"One year they can be really small and petite and then the next year they're bigger."
However, he has also noticed a growing number of boys becoming more "body-conscious".
"They're training and downloading apps on their phone on how to keep their body in perfect shape," he added.
Studies show obese children are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and musculoskeletal problems in later life. They are also more likely to experience psychological problems and social isolation.
According to the World Health Organisation, nearly four in every five teenagers who are obese will have subsequent weight issues. And young people who struggle to stay in shape are likely to be overweight as adults.