Could standing desks be the answer in the battle against childhood obesity?
We’ve all read the headlines that indicate alarming obesity statistics here in the UK where half of Britain’s population are predicted to be obese before 2050. For some, this may seem too far into the future to prompt concern, but what about the next generation? Primary research analysing health trends states that obesity levels amongst the UK’s children are rising fast.
It’s time for a breakthrough in thinking. Children spend over 600 hours a year in school, making it the ideal environment in which to instigate change. Whilst there is much debate about physical education, what about the traditional classroom set up?
Recent research in the US, conducted by Mark Benden, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University, and a specialist in Ergonomics, tested the use of standing desks in schools. Measuring changes in the calorie expenditure of primary school aged children, the pupils at the standing desks burned 15 to 25% more calories during the school day in comparison to their sitting peers. The statistics were even more striking in obese children who burned 25-35% more calories.
In terms of engagement, the standing desks enabled the teacher to move the children around more easily, giving new energy and motivation to group work. An interesting element that transpired was that teachers suffered less back discomfort as they didn’t have to keep bending down to students’ desks.
The option of a sit stand desk may be a more practical option for some children to benefit from both stances, and to prevent them from tiring. Many lessons involve parts where the ability to work alone, concentrating on a specific task is required, as well as sessions where interaction is beneficial. A sit stand desk offers the best of both positions to give learning and engagement a boost.