In 2001 we were commissioned by the Austrian Ministry of Health to conduct a study on the subject: "Children's Feet-Children's Shoes". The questions were formulated as follows:
- Do Austrian children's shoes fit properly?
- Do poorly-fitting shoes cause damage to children's feet?
What was investigated?
- The fit of the outdoor shoes, house shoes and slippers of 858 children.
- The health of the children' s feet.
- Parents were given a questionnaire about "Children's feet - Children's shoes".
The sobering results
- 69% of the children were found to be wearing outdoor shoes that were too short in length, 88% had house shoes or slippers which were too small (one child was wearing shoes 5 sizes too small!).
- Only 3% of the children's shoes had the correct inner length. For example: In shoes marked size 30, the inner length was just 29, 28, 27, sometimes even only size 26.
- For the first time it could be proven that poorly fitting shoes actually cause damage to children's feet. (download publication biomed_artikel.pdf).
- In June of 2004, after a year of development, the "plus12", the first precise measuring gauge for children's feet and the inside length of children's shoes, was put on the market. And the best part is: When measuring children's feet, the plus12 automatically adds an extra 12 mm, automatically ensuring the necessary length for a correct fit.
- In May 2005, we received an extension of our research grant (Austrian Ministry of Health and "Fonds Gesundes Österreich", the fund for a healthy Austria). This time we are really breaking new scientific ground. For the first time we will concentrate on how best to inform children, parents and educators, so that we can reduce the number of children wearing shoes that are too small.
Sooner than expected, the plus12 is getting quite a bit of international attention, mostly in Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, the Principality of Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic and Great Britain.
Another unexpected development: Our little measuring device is dividing shoe retailers into 2 opposing factions. On one side, the "traditionalists" are vehemently opposed to the inside length measurement of children's shoes, claiming, "There hasn't been one single complaint in the last 50 years", and that "new-fangled nonsense like the plus12" is completely unnecessary. It's interesting to note that these retailers will even stoop to harassing parents who request a way to measure the inside length of their kids' shoes.
The other side is open to innovation: Many people are surprised to learn that a number of large shoe store chains are on our side. They have analysed the problem, reacted sensibly, and they recognize that the plus12 is a good solution.(link: plus12 - order and price.)
- After a year-long development period, we introduced the plus12 base early in 2007. A number of shoe salespeople had brought it to our attention that kids wanted something "big, bright and fun" to measure their feet on. The plus12 base was born: the first measuring device that can be combined to measure both feet and shoes!
- But of course our research goes on: Too many children are still wearing shoes that are too short, and there are still no effective measures to fight this on a larger scale.
Our investigations continue, check back for developments!