Plus size clothes are on sale on Britain’s high streets for children as young as three, in what health campaigners say is a sign that childhood obesity has moved beyond epidemic proportions.
The comments come as it has emerged that high street retailer Next is selling a range of “plus fit” clothing for children aged between 3 and 16.
Included in the range, which is for boys and girls, are a number of pairs of jeans and tracksuit bottoms designed for children with larger than average waists.
The retailer’s “age 3 plus fit” trousers have a waistband which is 5cm larger than a standard “age 3” waistband, at 58 cm compared to 53 cm. “Age 10 plus fit” trousers have a waistband of 69 cm in size, compared to a 64 cm measure on standard “age 10” trousers.
Around a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese, with overeating the main cause, according to Duncan Selbie, chief executive at Public Health England.
Despite this Next is thought to be the only major clothing store in Britain to be selling casual wear garments which are specifically designed to fit children with larger-than-average waists.
Tam Fry, chief exec of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Next is simply catering for the market and the size of existing market is getting bigger, so they will be putting up their sizes. They may get stick for it but they are simply saying we have to clothe our customers.
“They are responding to current state of affairs, It has been in a bad state for a long time but this just shows it has now gone beyond the point of a crisis. The UK is sitting on a time bomb of childhood obesity, children are several times fatter than they were in 2002.”
Caroline Taylor, founder at specialist plus size children’s retailer More For Kids, said modern lifestyles were to blame and criticized major retailers for not doing enough to accommodate overweight children. She said: “Children are large for many reasons but a lot of it is down to their modern lifestyles. They are bound to their computers, their mums are working and they’re eating sugary foods.
“Children who are unable to fit in because of their body image suffer the same trauma as someone who has had a serious illness so it must be taken seriously. They need to feel good so they can go out with their mates and don’t just revert back to couch potato mode.
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