Standing desks in classrooms could be the answer to the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) growing obesity problem.
A new study revealed that by introducing desks that are set at a height into the classroom, students will alternate between sitting on a stool or standing while working, which will result in a healthier body weight.
The study, published in the American Journal of Public health, said that standing desks “can interrupt sedentary behaviour patterns” while kids are in school, “simply, at a low cost, and without disrupting classroom instruction time.”
The GCC has been witnessing a staggering rise in obesity rates, with countries such as Kuwait and Qatar recording among the world’s highest adult female obesity rates.
In the UAE, almost one-third of the country’s school-going population is overweight with statistics showing that 40% of 11-to-16-year-olds and 20% of children under the age of 11 in are obese.
The obesity rate among Saudi children has reached 37%, affecting more than 1.5 million children across the country.
Healthy weights are assessed differently in children than in adults. Because of weight and height change during growth and development, doctors don’t simply calculate the children’ body mass index (BMI).
Instead, they compare the child’s BMI to the BMI of other children of the same age and sex group.
For children, a normal BMI can fall between the 5th and 85th percentiles – that is, not in the bottom 5% or the top 15% among kids their age.
The study randomly assigned 380 students to classrooms with standing desks or regular desks.
Over the course of the study, children who had standing desks in their classrooms for two years in a row saw their BMI drop by 5% on average.
Mark Benden of the Texas A&M School of Public Health Ergonomics Center in College Station and colleagues said in the report that “reducing sitting time among school-age students could decrease the inactivity linked to a range of health problems, including obesity and diabetes.”