Would you buy 'plus size' clothes for your child?

The “plus fit” is sold alongside a slimmer “slim fit” size.
The “plus fit” is sold alongside a slimmer “slim fit” size. Photo: Shutterstock

UK store Next is offering a new range of clothing called "plus fit" to cater for a broader range of children's shapes and sizes. The range, sold along with regular fit and "slim fit" sizes, is being sold on the store's website, for children aged three to 16.

The retailer describes the larger size as being "more generous through the waist and hips for a comfortable fit".

A spokesperson for Next told the UK Telegraph, "Our different fits cater for children with different size waist and hips, taking into account that children come in all different shapes and sizes."

Some are horrified by the idea of plus size clothing being offered to children as young as three. Kim Roberts, chief executive of HENRY (Health Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young) told HuffPost UK she thinks the need for the larger sizes is a "sad symptom of the fact that child obesity is now the single biggest public health crisis in the UK"

"Obesity is incredibly difficult to reverse once established in children," she said. "In fact, government data shows that just one in 20 children who are obese at age five will return to a healthy weight by age 11."

Kim says that rather than offering larger clothing sizes, what is actually needed is to protect children from the harmful effects of obesity with early intervention programs, such as HENRY.

Tam Fry, spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum told HuffPost UK he can see Next copping a lot of criticism for offering the plus size range.

"But it's not the retailer's fault," he said. "The fault is, we now have such an obesity problem in this country. The fact is, people as young as three are showing up at stores wanting to be clothed and clothing manufacturers have no alternative but to say, 'You are a customer, you want to clothe your children, so we will produce a size of clothing that will fit your children'."

No major Australian stores are currently offering a plus size range for children, but with one in four children in this country being overweight or obese, perhaps it's a business opportunity that will be too lucrative to ignore for long.