Kids and Desks No Longer Fit

What to do?

Children of this generation have exceeded the growth charts used in the United States since 1977. These charts are a series of percentile curves that illustrate how young children grow.

“Right now, if we say that 15 or 17% of all kids are over 95th percentile for obesity, statistically that doesn’t make sense,” Wu said….

As children are getting bigger, their clothing, their furniture and other objects that support their weight must also expand.

Seventeen percent of children are obese, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And one in three kids is obese or overweight. The rate of childhood obesity has tripled to the point that pediatricians say growth charts no longer apply to today’s kids.

To accommodate larger kids, some schools have instructions for teachers to provide separate chairs and desks for students who cannot fit into the pupil chairs. And school furniture makers are increasing the size of chairs and desks to accommodate larger students….

Hertz Furniture, a company that resells office and school furniture, started offering 19-inch chairs for schools three years ago. The biggest desks available before had a height of 18 inches. The taller chairs have deeper depth and wider seating.

“The desks are getting larger, because if their thighs are larger, you have to move the desks up,” said Amy Hoffman, Hertz’s director of marketing.

Newer student desks with adjustable heights can accommodate bigger bodies. The student seats are designed to look just like the other ones, so they don’t make obese students appear different from their peers.

“That is an obesity trend reflected in the furniture,” said Tom Brennan, president of School Outfitters, which sells school furniture. “For perspective, when we look at import product from China, you can tell the difference from the China market and the U.S. market. The buckets are generally not wide enough. They have to be designed specifically for the U.S.”

Shawn Green, vice president of design and product marketing for KI, a company that designs and manufactures school and hospital furnishings, said the diameter of the metal, the supporting structure and the width, depth and height of school chairs have to be modified to work in the American market.



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  • It is ironic that while America is hyper-focused on the “obesity crisis”, that it is one of the unhealthiest nations! Perhaps we need to focus on quality of ingredients of food & start lifting the stigma of weight. We need to learn to respect our bodies regardless of their size, which means learning to recognize our signals for fullness & satisfaction as well as moving our bodies in a manner that feels good. We need to trust our inner wisdom that God gave us, instead of external forces such as diets, & the out-of-date, old paradigm view of the BMI scale.

  • Fish

    We may talk a lot about the obesity crisis but we do it with our mouths full.

    I am one of those parents who forbid soft drinks and candy as long as I could get away with it. When I see a small child drinking a Coke, I want to say something.

    We live in a society where individual free will is the sworn enemy of marketing, however. If there is a way to get past your consciousness to sell you something bad for you but profitable for them, a corporation will find it.

  • One thing I have never seen addressed is how they force the kids to shovel in the food at the school lunches so fast they could not possibly pay attention to whether they are full or not. Typical lunch periods are about 20 minutes including time in line, so they are lucky to get 10 minutes to eat. Then they rush them out the door to make room for the next 200 kids. Our bodies do not have time to work properly that way. It’s really teaching them not to pay attention to the signals.