Retailers Taking the Measure of Children’s Sizes
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
There was a time when "chubby" babies
and toddlers were considered cute. It was deemed healthy for infants to fill
out as they grew and to slim down as they became active children. That was
before we woke to the reality of potential long-term health problems when children
don’t become active,
eat too much and frequently consume foods that are not especially good for
them. It also pre-dated recognition of an official obesity epidemic.
continuing to fight reality through improving diet, some manufacturers are
recognizing children’s larger sizes by making it easier for parents
to find clothes that fit them. British retailer Marks and Spencer is introducing
a range of "plus-size" clothes aimed at children as young as three.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the trial is "an attempt to
meet consumer demand." It goes on to remind readers that "one in
four children is now classed as obese or overweight by the time they start
primary school." M&S says the new items are "cut far more generously
than … standard sizes, with almost two-and-a-half inches extra around the
waistline and hips for clothes for three-year-olds."
Referring to comments
from Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum, the story points out that Marks
and Spencer’s customers are generally middle class.
This hammers home the point that childhood obesity extends to all economic
categories and is not restricted to low income families.
"People used to dismiss obesity as a problem of the lower classes, but
the decision by M&S shows just how widespread the problem is," he
said, blaming what he called over-indulgence and "a generation of parents
who haven’t been taught domestic science, and don’t know how to feed their
children a healthy meal at the end of the day."
In an effort to find out
more about children’s actual shapes and sizes,
several other U.K. retailers, including Next and Asda, have announced a plan
to measure some 6,000 children so they can adjust clothing sizes accordingly.
2005, a report by The NPD Group found that with nearly one-third of all children
in the U.S. considered overweight, finding clothes in kids sizes was a challenge.
The NPD report found mothers of overweight children reported 31 percent of
their nine to twelve-year-old boys and 38 percent of girls in this age group
are already wearing men’s, women’s or junior-size
Discussion Questions: What’s the retail opportunity around plus-size kids
apparel? Is the best solution suggesting overweight children move up to adult
[Author’s commentary] I blush to admit it but there were definitely "chubby" sizes
when I was growing up in NY. I have no idea when or why they disappeared —
perhaps it was to do with the stigma that kids felt.
- Marks and Spencer to sell
‘plus size’ clothes to three-year-olds – The
- Don’t call them obese, they’re fat: UK minister – Reuters/The Washington
- USA: Kids to need special clothing size by NPD – fibre2fashion.com