Standing desks may help reduce weight in kids

New York: Struggling to shed those extra kilos in your kids? Standing desks in schools may prove beneficial as it cuts down on sedentary time in classrooms as well as help reduce body mass index (BMI) -- a key indicator of obesity -- by an average of 5.24 percentile points, new research has found.

The findings showed that the students who had the stand-biased desks for two years averaged a three per cent drop in BMI, while those in traditional desks showed the two per cent increase typically associated with getting older. 

However, even those students who spent just one year in classrooms with stand-biased desks had lower mean BMIs than those who had traditional seated classrooms in their third and fourth grade years. 

In addition, there weren't major differences between boys and girls, or between students of different races, suggesting that this intervention works across demographic groups.

"These types of standing desks encourage the students to move instead of being forced to sit in poorly fitting, hard plastic chairs for six or seven hours of their day," said Mark Benden, Associate Professor at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, US. 

Moreover, these standing desks might also help students who aren't overweight maintain their BMI, while at the same time help those who are overweight or obese get to a healthier weight, said the paper published in the American Journal of Public Health.

"Research has shown that standing desks are positive for the teachers in terms of classroom management and student engagement, as well as positive for the children for their health, cognitive functioning and academic achievement," Benden added.

Previous studies have also shown that children who stand burn 15 per cent more calories, on average, than those who sit in class.

For the study, the team followed 193 students from three elementary schools in US, from their third grade to the end of fourth grade.

At each school, four classrooms were outfitted with stand-biased desks (which allow students to sit on a stool or stand at will), and four classrooms in each school acted as a control and utilised standard classroom desks.