School uniforms with up to 54″ trouser waistlines are being sold as the growing epidemic of childhood obesity continues, writes Dan Buckley.
The problem is particularly acute in primary schools and the demand for oversized uniforms is growing, according to Jonathan Eakin from Hunter Schoolwear in Cavan, a wholesaler that has been supplying shops nationwide for more than 40 years.
One in four primary school children are either overweight or obese and uniform suppliers have been increasing the waistlines, shirt collars and bust width sizes in order to meet the change in demand, Mr Eakin said.
“Ten years ago, we brought in a special elasticated pants for primary school kids,” Mr Eakin told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ radio. “At the time we started with a 28” waist and did it up to a 36” waist but we now do it up to 46” waist.
“We are talking mainly boys but we do a pants with expanded waist for primary school girls as well.
“It has grown considerably in the last couple of years. This year for secondary school we did it up to 50” waist but we have been asked for 52” and 54” waists.”
He said that parents of obese children were going into shops that specialise in uniforms looking for trousers with 50” waists and shirts with 19” neck as these cannot be sourced in the larger multiple stores.
“Last year, we ran out of the 50” waists so this year we bought some more and we still have them in stock,” he said.
The demand for oversized school sweatshirts is also increasing, said Mr Eakin.
“The demand is increasing, particularly for primary schools. Adult sizes are all being sold. Imagine a ten-year-old boy wearing a large adult sweatshirt.”
According to dietician Louise Reynolds, one in four Irish schoolchildren are either overweight or obese.
“The problem isn’t just uniforms,” she said, speaking on the same programme. “They are at increased risk of heart problems and diabetes.”
The communications manager with the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute said type-2 diabetes, regarded as an adult condition, is now being found in primary school children.