Generation X-Large: Fatter children force stores to revamp sizing
A new guide has been drawn up for children aged between four and 16Decades of eating fast food and a couch-potato culture blamed
Girls of 11 are an average four inches wider around the waist
00:05 GMT, 1 March 2013
10:48 GMT, 1 March 2013
Clothing chains have been forced to rip up their sizing system for children to reflect the fact youngsters are now taller, wider and heavier.
A new template for those aged four to 16 has been devised for retailers to reflect major changes to body shapes over the last 35 years.
Girls of 11 are an average of four inches wider around the waist, while boys are generally bigger through the waist and chest.
Plumped: Clothing chains have been forced to rip up their sizing systems for children because they are now taller, wider and heavier
The figures add to evidence that decades of fast food, a couch-potato culture and a decline in school sport have remodelled the nation’s youth.
Six of the country’s biggest children’s fashion chains – Marks & Spencer, Next, George at Asda, Tesco, Monsoon and the Shop Direct group – will use the new guidelines.
Full body 3D scans were carried out on 2,885 youngsters across the country to produce the updated size regime.
The last time a comprehensive survey of children’s shapes was carried out was by the British Standards Institution in 1978.
Since then, girls of 11 have plumped up to the extent that the waist is an average of just over 10cm – around four inches – wider at 70.2cm (27.6in).
Children prefer to play computer games then do sport
At a time when many youngsters are going through puberty at an earlier age, the average chest measurement for the 11-year-old girl is up by 7.09cm (2.8in) to 78.4cm(30.8in).
The average boy’s chest is now 9.69cm (3.8in) bigger at 78.35cm (30.8in), while the waist is up by 8.53cm (3.4in).
The figures were compiled by Shape GB, a collaboration between retailers, several academic bodies, clothing size experts Alvanon and scanner experts.
Alvanon president, Ed Gribbin, said official sizing standards were ‘quite outdated’, leading to ‘significant inconsistency in sizing and fit across clothing brands and retailers’.
‘This creates confusion and frustration for shoppers, not to mention a high percentages of returns which adds cost to retailers that may get passed on to consumers.’
He added: ‘Most studies, including the World Health Organisation, cite two main reasons for the fact that children in developed countries are getting larger.
‘The first is sedentary lifestyles, as children are more in tune with their computers than they are an active lifestyle.
Experts believe the reason why women are getting bigger is because they are doing less housework
The second is the higher sugar content in many diets. Processed and fast foods are all contributing factors.’
The scanning was run by Select Research. Its managing director, Richard Barnes, said the information could be used to find ways to tackle childhood obesity.
The six retailers which participated in the project sell 48 per cent of children’s clothes in the UK.
Other stores are expected to take up the new guidelines.