Demand for supersize school uniforms is growing, with shopkeepers in Blackpool saying they are having to order in bigger sizes for school-children every year.
Stockists of uniforms for schoolchildren aged four to 16 have said they regularly have to order in unusual sizes for children, some as big as large adult male sizes.
One Blackpool businesswoman has told how she had to order in a women’s size 24 skirt for a secondary school age child this summer.
The average size of a UK woman is 16.
And another shopworker has told how skirts with waists of up to 36ins are also being called for.
It comes just one month after The Gazette revealed one in four reception age children in Blackpool is classed as obese, and that even more – one in three – 10 and 11-year-olds are classed as obese, according to the Public Health Annual Report.
And businesses across the Fylde coast agreed there is “no average” size for youngsters these days, making it more difficult to order in the exact amount of the right size clothes.
Cath Hurley, who owns Raggamuffin in Layton, said: “There’s no average size of child these days, they are getting bigger.
“It’s only on the odd occassion you have to cater for someone who’s a bigger size.
“The biggest I’ve had is a size 24 skirt and last year I ordered a 48ins chest blazer for a secondary school and a 38ins chest for a junior age child.
“It does make it tricky and they have to pay more because they’re not children’s sizes.”
Another shopworker, who asked not to be named, added: “It is becoming a problem.
“We have girls needing 34ins or 36ins waist skirts.”
As The Gazette revealed the extent of Blackpool’s obesity problem last month and businesses admit they order in adult size school uniforms for children, Blackpool’s director of public health, Dr Arif Rajpura admitted childhood obesity is one of his biggest concerns and described it as an “epidemic”.
He said: “Obesity is a national problem, and unless we do something here and now our future generations are going to have poor health.
“These issues start in childhood, and to see excess weight from reception class onwards is a worry.”
Dr Rajpura is keen to lobby the government over fast food outlets and fizzy drinks, things he says perpetuate the problem of obesity.
He wants more to be done about unhealthy food and high sugar products being sold cheaply and being readily available.
He added: “There is so much cheap, energy-dense food available, almost on every corner.
“Once in a while is fine, but when people are eating it day in day out, it’s adding to the obesity problem.”
But while many are shocked by the sizes needed for children’s school uniforms, others in the retail sector have said there is also a need for smaller uniforms, too, and said there is no longer an “average” size.
1st Class Kids on Highfield Road, South Shore, said it had to order in a number of smaller than average size secondary school uniforms this September.
Owner Anita Turner said: “There are a lot of small children, too, it’s different each year.
“There’s no typical sizes anymore.”