Plus size uniforms for 4 year olds

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Marks and Spencer has started to sell plus-sized school uniforms for children as young as four because one in five children in England starts their school life overweight.

Designed for pre-school children with waistlines of up to 23ins (a size usually worn by eight-year-olds), and going up to age 16, with trouser and skirt sizes up to a 41-inch, the commercial recognition of the trend shows that obesity in pre-schoolers is increasing.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘The fact that M&S has launched this range indicates the severity of the obesity problem.

"This is the actual commercial recognition of what we have known for some time - that obesity in pre-schoolers is building up. Now 27% of entrants to primary schools are overweight or obese."

"It should be a wake-up call to parents, but also to society and the Government. At a government level, they have consistently ducked out of regulating the food industry.

"If you allow the food industry to self regulate - and the government sanctions the fact that they are not going to regulate - then the food industry will just carry on making the food it is making."

More than one in five children in England start their school life overweight or obese. By the end of primary school the rate rises to nearly one in three, the government's child measurement programme found.

The schools data showed more boys than girls were overweight in both reception and year six. Some 24% of boys aged four to five were overweight or obese, while 21.5% of girls were.

In the 10 to 11-year-old age group, 34.5% of boys and 30.7% of girls weighed too much.

The statistics, collected by the Department of Health, predicts that obesity could cost £50billion a year by 2050.

Meanwhile, a study by U.S. researchers has found that the "tipping point" that sets children on the way to a lifetime of obesity often occurs before the age of two.

In the study, more than half the children were overweight by 24 months and 90% were overweight by the age of five.

A quarter were overweight before they were five months old, the researchers reported in Clinical Pediatrics.

The children in the study, who had an average age of 12, were all overweight or obese by the age of 10.

Although the reason for rapid weight gain in early life is not well understood, contributing factors are likely to be poor diet, early introduction of solid food, and not getting enough exercise.