Singapore school uniform manufacturers point out the demands for larger sized uniforms likely related to Singapore's kids becoming heavier.
Madam Doris Yeo is managing director of Shanghai School Uniforms, a supplier of uniforms for Singapore kids for the past 50 years.
She was shocked when two years ago, a 13-year-old boy reportedly came into her shop and asked for a uniform with a 59-inch (149.8-cm) waistline. This is a size usually used by adults with obesity.
Mdm Yeo told The Straits Times, "Our children are getting bigger. We have to make bigger sizes now compared to the past, especially for the shorts and trousers."
Now, her company carries 12 sizes (up from 10) to accommodate the literally growing demand for larger-sized shorts and pants.
Primary school shorts start at a 20-inch waistline and go right up to 42 inches. Secondary school pants range from 24 to 46 inches.
A decade ago, an average P1 boy would wear a uniform between sizes 20 and 24. But now, those sizes have gone up to between sizes 22 and 26. A regular Secondary school student meanwhile was around 24 to 28 inches around the waist. But now, he measures in at 26-32 inches.
Mdm Yeo has revealed they they may soon make even larger sizes in order to save parents the cost of getting tailor-made uniforms.
Obesity levels among Singapore kids: a correlation with larger uniforms
It's not wrong to say that these larger sized uniforms (and the demand for them) is correlated with the growing rate of obesity among school children. This rate has risen from 10 percent in 2000 to 12 percent.
Larger uniform sizes are likely a consequence of the rising obesity rates among schoolchildren. This has risen in recent years from 10% in 2000 to 12% in 2014.
This upward trend has not gone unnoticed by Singapore's leaders and policy makers. PM Lee just last month pointed out rising diabetes rates, and advised Singaporeans to be more conscious about diet, exercise more and get regular health checks.
Josephine Yeo, mum of a 10-year-old boy, is quoted by The Straits Times as saying she spends $80 on two sets of ready-made uniforms and PE attire for her son, who at 41kg, is overweight.
"Now we make him go for runs every few days," she said, adding, "we also try to control his diet. For example, we don't give him as much rice during dinner."
A recent Health Promotion Board study found that if a child is overweight at age seven, he has a 70 per cent chance of growing up into an overweight or obese adult.
Mums and dads, remember to provide healthy, balanced meals for you children. Ensure they get plenty of physical exercise. Discourage the consumption of fatty foods and fizzy drinks which have absolutely no health benefits from your child.