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Children too big to fit behind a school desk? Whatever next!

PUBLISHED: 00:30 30 October 2012

Schoolchildren have devised a cunning new way to skive lessons: by becoming too fat to fit under their desks.

Standard school furniture is based on measurements made in the 1960s when children were smaller, thinner, didn’t talk back and didn’t communicate primarily by text.

Research, however, has suggested that the average height of children has increased at the rate of 1cm a decade, with the majority of growth in the lower leg, and that obesity among pupils has risen from around five per cent in 1985 to 19 per cent in 2011.

I’m not sure about you, but when I read those figures I’m not worrying about school furniture, I’m worrying about 1,000 years hence when all our children will have lower legs that are a full metre longer than they are today. They’ll look like grasshoppers. Buying them school trousers will be a nightmare.

If the obesity crisis continues to rise at its current pace, those spindly lower legs won’t be any use at all – the first time they stand up they’ll buckle under their own weight and need to be wheeled round on gigantic skateboards. Thank God I’ll be dead by then.

According to studies, unless schools start ‘going large’ with their furniture orders, children’s schoolwork could suffer as back pain distracts their attention. Poor lambs.

I certainly wasn’t overweight when I was at school although I may have been slightly under-height for my weight.

But even at my lowest, ahem, height, I could still fit under a school desk and have room for a copy of Jackie magazine to read during geography, particularly when learning about trade in Nigeria (a subject as relevant to my life then as it is now, ie not at all).

Back then, namby-pamby excuses about desks and bad backs would have been met with hollow laughter and a month of lunchtime detentions in the lair of the terrifying, bearded maths teacher whose hatred of young people was considered a bonus, rather than an impediment, to his teaching career.

It practically took the production of death certificate to get you out of PE lessons, and even if you had that you’d still be expected to carry the netball bibs, keep score and apply pressure to wounds when required.

Forget small desks, bad backs and obesity-based bullying, the PE knickers at my school caused the kind of injuries to one’s self-esteem from which many, including me, never truly recovered.

I do remember, however, that even the pregnant student – who stayed at school until she was more than eight months gone – could lever herself behind a desk, so just how big are kids these days? Should I be saving up for a winch for my grandchildren?

Personally, I think all this trouble began when they got rid of the nit nurses. I have no proof to back this up, but that’s never stopped me in the past.

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