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Are the desks and chairs at school appropriate?

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The aim of the current study was to find out how the measures of chairs and desks match with the anthropometrics of schoolchildren and how schoolchildren sit during a lesson in their classroom. This paper reports the baseline measurements of an intervention study. Participants of this study were 6th and 8th grade (12 and 14 year old) schoolchildren from two comprehensive schools in Finland (N = 101, 57 girls and 44 boys). The main outcome measures were the differences between desk height and elbow-floor height, and chair height and popliteal height. Forty-three participants were randomized for sitting posture analysis by video recordings. The study showed that desks were on average 13 cm above elbow-floor height and chairs 2 cm below popliteal height. For 56% of time participants sat with their backs flexed >20° and/or rotated >45°. For 70% of time they sat with their necks flexed >20° or rotated >45°. The results indicate that there is a mismatch between school furniture and the anthropometrics of schoolchildren. Schoolchildren sit in disadvantaged postures for a substantial part of school lessons.
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Keywords: Anthropometrics; Chair; Desk; Schoolchildren; Sitting posture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Tampere School of Public Health, FIN-33014, University of Tampere, Finland 2: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Tampere, Finland

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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