Children 'have wider waists now than in 1978'

 
Boy measuring his stomach The scanners are more precise than measuring tape

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Today's generation of 11-year-olds are significantly taller - and fatter - than their parents were at the same age, a survey suggests.

According to the first ever nationwide sizing survey using 3D body scanners, both typical waist-lines and height have increased over the last 30 years.

The findings are based on measurements of more than 2,500 children aged four to 17, taken in 2009-10.

High street retailers will use the results to provide more accurate sizes.

Several of them sponsored the research, and they will also use the data to better design children's clothes.

Girls are typically 2cm taller, with waist measurements up by 8cm, and boys are 4cm taller, with waists up by 7cm.

The survey, called Shape GB and carried out by Select Research, suggests that two current beliefs prevalent among retailers are wrong: that boys' and girls' body shapes do not differ significantly before the age of seven, and that the average height of five-year-old boys is 110cm when it is actually 115cm.

An average 11-year-old girl today is 148.8cm tall, compared with 146cm in 1978, an increase of 2.8cm or 1.9%.

'New insights'

Because the 3D scanner does not compress the skin like a tape measure does, and the scanner also measures the small of the back, it produces waist measurements around 1.9cm larger than a tape measure.

Accounting for that difference, the average 11-year-old girl's waist has increased by 8.3cm, or 13.9%, to 70.2cm.

Richard Barnes, from Select Research, shows how the scans reveal shape

The last major survey on the topic was released by the British Standards Institute in 1990, based on measurements taken from more than 8,300 children in 1978.

The average boy of 11 now stands 148.2cm tall, up from 144.6cm in 1978, a 3.6cm or 2.5% increase. His waist is up by 7cm to 70cm.

Richard Barnes, of Select Research, said the 3D measurements could help to develop a body volume index (BVI), which may prove to be more useful than body mass index (BMI) in assessing the health risks posed by childhood obesity.

Mr Barnes said: "The increases in waist circumference since 1978 show that children have got bigger. However, increases in height and chest size show that children in the UK have grown over the years in many ways.

"Measuring body shape in 3D and where a child's weight is distributed may provide us with new insights on the actual risk to health and change perceptions of what health interventions are required."

 

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  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 49.

    Coverage of this topic is routinely biased; take yesterday's pro-bariatric surgery report. It was funded by the industry and claimed that surgery could reverse TII diabetes. No mention of a more detailed 2010 study which found surgery only masks it. Fat people are starting to fight back against hate, discrimination and what thin people claim as 'truth' - search #thingsfatpeoplearetold on twitter.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 48.

    It's definitely concerning that children in the UK - and adults - are increasingly qualifying as overweight or obese. I agree with most comments on here which highlight the 'simplicity' of maintaining a healthy body weight: i.e eat less/better, exercise more. However, I think we need more than that to make it work: healthy living needs to be more 'exciting' and 'cool' to motivate young people.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 47.

    Willo@23, you're right about the Beeb's pathological obsession with demonising fat people. Where I disagree is with your acceptance of the scale or implications of this alleged 'epidemic'. The definition of 'obese' uses the BMI which is even less useful in kids than adults, who also consume a third fewer calories now than in 1970. Put simply, the whole thing is a moral panic and media witch-hunt.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 46.

    Of course the 'height' element is downplayed because it doesn't fit the obesity moral panic narrative, as is the fact that life expectancy has increased over the same period. All we ever hear from the BBC in particular is simplistic, judgmental waffle about how evil fat people are ruining the world and how being bigger exponetially outweighs any positive contribution one might make to society.

  • Comment number 45.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 44.

    Also we need to look at the other side. I work in a secondary school and I am forever hearing mostly girls saying "I want to be thinner". Being underweight is just as damaging as being overweight. There have been cases of models dropping dead from heart failure linked to being underweight. Sections of the media have a lot to answer for in terms of fermenting a culture of obsession with self-image

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 43.

    It goes beyond just eating less and exercising more although that plays a role in many cases. Alot of people don't know how to cook and alot of good foods are too expensive for families. A solution; more timetable time at school for PE and cooking, vouchers for healthy foods for those on benefits instead of cash. Some unfortunately spend lots of money on things like smoking instead of good food.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 42.

    Pretty basic. We're getting larger as a species, and kids are getting fatter. Of course it's a problem, and as usual, it's the parents' responsibility to have some say in their childrens' diets.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 41.

    Kids have more money to spend than in the past, and chocolate and fast food is no longer a treat. Todays kids are consumers in their own right so it's hardly suprising they make poor food choices. I really think a fat tax is needed when the price of an apple is the same as a bar of chocolate and a happy meal costs less than £3.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 40.

    Judging by the amount of schoolkids I see at lunchtime munching on a whole pizza or burger & fries and dumping the packaging on the ground, I'm not surprised! Where do they get the money?

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 39.

    It's so SIMPLE!! Get them to eat less and exercise more. Eat fresh fruit and veg instead of sweets. Problem solved. Now onto crime. Breaking the law is bad, so you mustn't do it. Instead of knifing and murdering people, get a good job and be productive. I'm on a roll here. Drugs: Don't take drugs. Drink: Don't consume excess alcohol. Smoking: Stop it now. All sorted out now. It's so SIMPLE!!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 38.

    Yes - statistics show that obesity is on the increase here in children and adults.

    Parents NEED to take control of what their kids eat and stop feeding them junk. Allowing your children to become obese is tantamount to child abuse and needs to stop.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 37.

    There's not much hope for kids when chocolate goo is allowed to be advertised for "a healthy breakfast" but the "go to work on an egg" adverts are banned.

    Ya gets what ya deserves.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 36.

    Successive governments have convinced us that there is either a terrorist or a child molester on every street corner in order to support their Big Brother policies so we won't let our kids out to play on their own. In addition, parents sometimes feel guilty about having to work all the time and give their kids too many treats.

    The answer, however, is simple. Have them eat less and move more.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 35.

    I happen to be thin, young, lazy, eat lots of sweets and have overweight parents. However I have a strong feeling that set dinners cause people to get fat as of my brothers, myself and another who is thin tend to skip dinner and eat snacks and the others who are notably heavier tend to eat curries and the like as well as proper meals. Could just be youthful metabolism in my case though.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 34.

    25. Tory Bankers Stole My Cash
    29 Minutes Ago

    Obesity is caused by the food industry.

    --------

    Yes, it's always someone else's fault. Yawn!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 33.

    My 7 year old son, isn't obese. Buying trousers and shorts is already very difficult because they are far too big on the waist, this will become impossible if clothing retailers continue to make clothes larger! He is not the only slim child in his class. Although there are larger children, it is not all children.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 32.

    my friend is a high school P.E teacher, on average they have 70% of pupil per class who dont participate, he said the best parental excuse he got was that one child is alegic to sweat ! talk about excuses. Parents are responsible, its simple they buy the food and they can turn off the t.v, Easy parenting and a bit pathetic.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 31.

    We should be concerned about any steps any government may take to interfere with the way we care for our children. Parents can make mistakes, but Governments create disasters. Research into obesity in children is financed if governments if governments have an angle - that is, tax increases on certain foods deemed to be unhealthy by government paid researchers.

 

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