Schools across the country are pioneering big changes in the classroom -- to accomodate the 17 percent of U.S. children who are overweight or obese, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Schools have started to provide separate chairs and desks for the increasing number of students who cannot fit into regular school desks, CNN reports, and the manufacturers of the school furniture have begun increasing the size of the desks and chairs for future students. The figure for overweight or obese children in the U.S. has tripled from just one generation ago, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I was so large, I couldn't fit in there," 19-year-old Taylor LeBaron told CNN about his school experience. "I couldn't get my legs to fit underneath the desk or my stomach to fit between the chair without getting the desk stuck with me."
LeBaron went on to detail how difficult it was to endure the snickering from other students when he would struggle to get out of his desk.
Dr. Richard Deckelbaum, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University, told ABC News that while this is a problem that schools must accomodate, he hopes that childhood obesity -- and its consequences -- won't continue to be a problem.
“If you want to learn well, you have to at least be comfortable. But the best solution in the long term is prevention,” he told the network. “I would hope that even if schools did buy [larger furniture], the problem will go away in the next few years.”
Contrary to these reports, New York City public schools reported fewer instances of childhood obesity after implementing a series of measures they believe have alleviated the problem over the last few years.
"The tide of the obesity epidemic is beginning to ebb," Thomas Farley, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told Bloomberg. "We see this as validation that our public health efforts to address the obesity epidemic are beginning to work."
Some of the changes included limiting the amount of time in front of televisions and computers as well as increasing physical activity time.