The National Child Measurement Programme

As part of the National Child Measurement Programme children are weighed and measured at school. The information is used by the NHS to plan and provide better health services for children. Your local NHS may send your child's results to you. 

What is the child measurement programme?

If you have a child in reception (ages four and five) or year 6 (ages 10 and 11) you will receive a letter with more information from your local NHS provider before your child is measured.

On the day, trained staff from your local NHS will weigh and measure your child in their clothes at school. They'll take care to ensure that the measurements are done sensitively and in private, and your child’s results will not be shared with teachers or other children.

 

Why is it important that my child be measured?

You will know if your child is in the healthy weight range. If your child is overweight, further support is available from your local NHS.

Your child doesn't have to take part, but every child measured is contributing to the national picture about how children are growing. The more children who participate, the clearer that picture will be. The information collected helps your local NHS to plan and provide better health services for the children in your area.

 

How do I find out my child’s results?

In some areas, parents will automatically be sent their child’s results in the post. In other areas parents will need to contact their local NHS provider to find out their child’s measurements.

The letter that you receive from your local NHS provider before the measurements take place will explain how you will be informed about your child’s results.

If you already know your child’s height and weight and want to know if they're a healthy weight for their age, height and sex, you can check using our healthy weight calculator. Your whole family can use the calculator.

If you're concerned that your child might be underweight or overweight, speak to your GP, school nurse or health visitor. They will be able to offer you advice and support.

 

Why do we need to take the measurements?

The BMI (body mass index) measure, used by healthcare professionals, is a good way of finding out whether a child is a healthy weight.

By comparing your child’s weight with their height, age and sex, we can tell whether they are growing as expected. This is something you may have done when your child was a baby, using the growth charts in the Personal Child Health Record (red book).

Once your child’s BMI has been calculated, they will be in one of four categories: underweight, healthy weight, overweight or very overweight.

Today, one in three children in the UK aged between two and 10 years is overweight. Because the number of children being overweight has gradually increased in, we have slowly become used to it, and it can be difficult to tell if your child is overweight as they may look similar to other children of their age. That’s why we use the measurement of weight against height to get an accurate measure.

Research shows that if your child is overweight now, they are more likely to grow up to be overweight as an adult. This can lead to health problems in later life, so this measurement is an important way of checking how your child is growing.

 

Should I share these results with my child?

The results are sent to you the parent or carer, so the decision about whether to talk to your child about the result is entirely yours. Some parents or carers like to discuss the result with their child and then decide together whether to make any changes to the family’s diet or activity levels, while others decide to make subtle changes without telling them. There is no right or wrong answer and your decision depends on your family and your child.

You might find some useful advice at the Weight concern website

 

Where can I get help?

If your child’s weight results take you by surprise or worry you, speak to your GP or school nurse for advice and support.

Your local authority should have also included a contact number with the results letter for you to call if you want further information or advice from your local NHS.

Find your local authority.

Many parents have found the tips on the Change4Life website useful in helping them make small lifestyle changes to keep their child in the healthy weight range. You can also find out what clubs, activities and fun events are happening in your local area. You can also call Change4Life on 0300 123 4567 (local call rates apply).

If your child is overweight, you can find out more about the steps to take and the help available in When your child is overweight.

Some parents also find it helpful to re-check their child’s BMI after a few months, to see if they have moved into the healthy range as they grow. You can do this using the NHS Choices Healthy weight tool.

Page last reviewed: 01/09/2012

Next review due: 01/09/2014

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The 29 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

kds1987 said on 03 July 2014

i just received a letter saying my 5 year old daughter is overweight i do not believe this as she eats all fruits and vegetables and does alot of exercise all i am gonna say is 3 people in our family are over 6 ft tall 2 of them are big built and my daughter is under a consultant at the hospital for other problems and not once have they ever told me she is over weight in the 2 and half years she has been going there i think these results need to be checked better and not just say that kids are over weight without getting the family background

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list07 said on 09 April 2014

Oh dear indeed head teacher (without capital letters)

I wonder how many of your pupils that recieved letters informing their incredibly awfull parents that they are over weight are on school lunches provided by your catering teams?

My son is at a very good school and has a school lunch which i decided would be the most healthy option for him. I would say that if the nhs and the schools nursing team are telling me my child is overweight (which he is not) they maybe need to look into what the school are providing him to eat as i know in my own mind that its not what he has at home that is causing the problem.

Maybe you should be looking at your procedures for what parents send into schools for packed lunches as my sons school dont allow chocolate or crisps. You seem very rightous for someone who obviously has a number of children in their school with suggested health issues (im very pleased my child is nowhere near your influences)

Aside from the fact that for someone so educated you obviously have no idea what you are talking about, i think that the point every concerned parent is trying to make is that children should be allowed to be children without being labled and judged. There is too much pressure on our children from such a young age nowerdays and it is turning out a lot of stressed teenagers with very uneccessary psychological problems. Whatever happened to the campaigns to stop eating dissorders? we seem to be encouraging paranoia now.

answers on a postcard!

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Erin24 said on 31 March 2014

With respect "head teacher" my child's letter suggested that she was over weight. I feed her good food that is always correctly portioned, and she is a slim, healthy child who exercises daily. In response to the letter, while attending an appointment with my child's consultant in hospital, I spoke with him about this and was reassured that the possibility of her being overweight was completely out of the question and that I was to carry on as normal! So you see these findings are inaccurate.

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head teacher said on 28 March 2014

Oh dear, as the head teacher of a primary school I despair at some of the comments below. In my school even more than the national level of 1 in 3 children are clearly a little larger than might be thought ideal, yet I have never yet spoken to a parent who is prepared to admit this. The argue that it is 'genetic', that the child has 'big bones' etc etc. Then I look at the packed lunches that are provided, or the portions of school lunch the child consumes. Today one 8 year old girl had two yogurts (but Miss, they are healthy...), one 'Mr Kipling' cake and a doughnut for her pudding. A 5 year old boy had two sandwiches (4 slices of bread) filled with ham, a bag of crisps, a 'dairylea dunker' a cheese string, a packet of chocolate covered 'animal biscuits' and an apple. This is not normal, it is way too much and these children eat this every day. Stop making excuses and help your children live a better lifestyle instead. I am not a health freak myself: I love a glass of wine and a bit of chocolate as much as anyone else but in moderation. Be fair to your children and help them rather than defend what you know is wrong.

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Billyjoe said on 24 February 2014

I too have had a letter stating that my 5 year old son is obese, which is complete and utter rubbish; he is very tall for his age and actually towers over the other kids in the older years (he is in reception). He is very active and I am very concious about his diet'/exercise as I am a trained nurse who performed these checks on adults and children whilst performing my duties as a Practice Sister at a GP practice for many years. I feel that the whole system should be overhauled and updated, so far as I am aware the BMI indicator that is used is still that which was introduced following data from 1978 - 1994, so very out of date, have the NHS/Government been walking around with their eyes closed for all these years, the world has changed dramatically! I find the letter very offensive too which has been sent, it is almost implying that as a parent one is killing your child and trying to 'scare' parents into putting children on to diets, are we not therefore creating a situation where are children will have eating disorders as they develop which in turn will stay with them for their lifetime,which in some cases may lead to self harming, which I have seen professionally due to a child being told they are not 'normal' , which will actually cost the NHS even more money. Can we please let our children be children rather than creating this type of dictatorship of how we all have to look to conform to what is 'normal', I thought that our grandparents/great grandparents had fought for this right.

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Alice09 said on 02 January 2014

I have recently received a health report for my 4 1/2 year old daughter stating that she is clinically obese. What utter nonsense. Just looking at her she is not overweight, her tummy is as flat as anything. In fact I am jealous.Both myself and her father are tall people, me being 5ft10 and him being 6ft3 she was never going to be dinky. She stands at 4ft. So she is tall for her age. And her weight is perfect for her height but because it does not match her age then she is classed at obese. My fear is that because she is a tall girl she will grow up with this through her life and possibly cause eating disorders, as there is a stereotype that children have to follow these days. Although she is at the age where she doesn't understand at the moment, the time will come that she does. There is nothing else I can possibly do to give her a healthier lifestyle. She does swimming lessons, constantly eats fruit and veg even her school pack up is a salad box because she doesn't want cakes and crisps, we walk everywhere and she is on the go from the minute she wakes up until she goes to bed. I really would like to see what a healthy child looks like! How can you judge a child's health without seeing the parents and know their lifestyle. One of my friends sons was classed as a healthy child but all she can get him to eat is sweets, how does that work?

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MattNixon said on 18 December 2013

I received a letter saying my son is overweight when he weighs 67kg and his height is 162cm and he is not even fat

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essexparent said on 22 August 2013

I have been told today that my child is overweight. Without bias, that's nonsense. Moreover, my child has also apparently been given place on a FREE (whoopee) "Little Dudes Programme" on which, I gather, we are to be spoken down to by people that think they are better than us. There is apparently no option to say no. Doubtless social services will be round looking to take the little one into "care" if we don't go...

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andrews77 said on 15 April 2013

For any parent receiving these letters telling you that your child is overweight or obese please ignore! I too was upset and furious at my child being called overweight, he weight is 3st 0 lb and he is 5, he stil wears 3-4yr old clothes as he is so tiny! but because he is short this puts his BMI up! This way of calculating a childs weight is simply awful! How dare the NHS presume all kids should be the same height and weight to fit into there idealistic boxes. whom ever thought this idea up needs to go back to the drawing board or better still take my advice....... All kids are different, they do not all fit into your categories, use your common sense!
I will be taking the letter to my sons asthma nurse who will be horrified as she weighs him and measures him every 3 months and has stated on numerous occassions that he needs to grow more as hes so tiny!

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dibble74 said on 15 April 2013

Agree with the waste of time and money comments. I'm livid. I had expected to get a letter stating that my son is a healthy weight, not a letter suggesting he is overweight. He isn't overweight and I had expected to be able to show him this letter to reinforce that fact.
Utterly pointless exercise, not just pointless but actually worse than pointless - it's dangerous and damaging.

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MrsNC said on 27 February 2013

Completely agree. A ridiculous waste of time. My daughter in reception was deemed to be bordering obsese, as were several other kids in her class. They are nothing of the sort. It's not difficult to spot an overweight child by simply looking at them. Why not scrap the program and have a health visitor that simply visits the school and makes a note of any children who may look like they have weight problems? We need to collectively try and put a stop to this...weight problems are on in the increase in young children and receiving letters such as these are not going to help!

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ni2013 said on 21 February 2013

Keep your hands off my child. I am a competent parent, and if there is a problem I will address it. Without state intervention. The NHS is in tatters. I don't see that you actually help. anyway.

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DeeSher said on 03 January 2013

The reason other governments don't implement this scheme is because, as others have pointed out on this comments section, the results are ridiculous for some children.

I got a letter about my 11 year old, as he was at the time, telling me he was overweight. He wasn't (and still isn't) in the slightest bit fat and he is very tall and muscular for his age. Strangely, if he had been the same weight and height as he was but he had been 13 instead of 11, he would have been declared slim and well within acceptable limits. What has age got to do with it? No account has been taken of how far a child has got through puberty and how well developed they are.

There was no need to send out a letter if the person doing the testing had just bothered to actually look at him and not just allow a computer to churn out an irrelevant letter. Other than a data collection exercise, the whole process is of no use to anybody but the government. It doesn't take into account the circumstances of the individual.

A lot of doctors are coming to realise that BMI is a joke and that a waist to hip ratio or even just a waist measurement are a far more suitable judge of the health of a individual. I am surprised that it is allowed for use on children at all when they are still growing.

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Frank J said on 24 July 2012

I believe The National Child Measurement Programme is necessary and beneficial. I just wonder why other governments have not implemented it as well.

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jellybottom said on 05 July 2012

I am also fuming after receiving a letter from the school nursing service informing me that my son is "clinically obese". This is utterly ridiculous and incredibly insulting. My son is just 5 and looks very slender and muscular. I have to use the tightest button hole on the sides of his trousers so that they don't fall down. He is constantly asking for fruit and veg to eat. Even when offered cake, choc etc he would refuse it and ask for a carrot. He swims, plays football, we walk everywhere ( i hate using the car) and is constantly jumping on the trampoline. I have now filed the patronising booklet they sent me under B for bin and told the school nurse that my son and other children are never to be measured again. What a waste of time and resources especially when the government is trying to cut back on expenditure.

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ploomyy said on 06 May 2012

my daughter received a letter stating that my granddaughter is clinicly obese.
there is no way she is, she is a healthy nornal child, eats healthy and is always playing out.
what do thesepeople think they are doing.
fortunately my daughter is taking no notice of the letter.
i think this government has a lot to answer to, scaring people about their kids.
no wonder healthy girls think they are obese if they see these stupid letters.

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brutald said on 03 February 2012

i am so mad just recieved a letter like most others, saying my daughter is clinically obese she 10 years old weighs 7.10 and is nearl 5ft she is in full puperty she has been for 11mnths and is the only one in school , she does karate twice a week dancing , we eat healthy as i and my wife are wheat and dairy intolerant so cant eat junk food so they dont either , they state a parents build is not a reason for the childs size im 5fft 6 i have a 48inch chest 28 inch from shoulder to shoulder and i have a 32 -34 waist so not fat and i walk in to most door frames i have a big upper body was born like a weight lifter and at my last heath check i was told i was ok ? i have just phoned them up and this was the response i new this was going to cause problems , me i want to no how you come to this and did i give you a signiture to do this , them , i dont no i will get the nurse to phone you back , me does this stay on there records as this reflects on us as parents to let alone the child , them silence , looks like you are going to get a lot of grief ,, so everyone who has a problem with this make sure you phone them up as the more complaints they get the sooner this will be ditched like a lot of the other wastes of resorces?

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o0lisajag0o said on 07 January 2012


Have just received a letter fron the National Child Measurement Programme. Apparently my son is clinically obese...WHAT....???!!!!!! The letter included a Change For Life leaflet. How dare you presume to know my childs lifestyle and what he eats..!! HE DOES NOT eat processed food.... WE DO NOT have microwave meals in the freezer...!!!! All our food is fresh and cooked from scratch...!!!! We only eat fresh vegetables apart from frozen peas and I would like to add that he eats all vegetables...(he is not a fussy eater) he has schools dinners which are nutritionally balanced...he eats all fruit and has fresh fruit on a daily basis... We have choc and sweets that have been in the cupboard forever and I throw more out than what he eats... My son eats a lot healthier than me because I dont want him to end up like me...!!!!! You from the NCMP can go and suck lemons and send your offensive findings elsewhere.!!!!!

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whitby said on 20 December 2011

When my 4 1/2 boy came home from school with a letter saying he had been weighed at school and that he was obese I was really upset. He is the most active child you could ever meet (like a duracel bunny). He goes swimming twice a week, plays football once a week and goes to karate. He doesn't eat sweets or chocolates except for once in a blue moon for a treat and has always eaten healthy food. He is now 6 and weighs 3st 9 lbs and is still very active but still classed as obese. I know he will never be a skinny ribs but he is not a coach potato glued to a ds, as he does sports every day and has a healthy fruit smoothy for breakfast, school lunch and then a healthy tea like wholemeal pasta. It annoys me when people who don't know my child comment on his weight without knowing what he does. There should be a form asking you what your child eats in a week and his weekly exercise, that way they may be able to come up with a solution for my son to loose weight.

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LornaMM said on 01 December 2011

I have today rec'd a letter saying that my 4 1/2 year old son is overweight. This is absolutely ludicrous, and I am making a formal complaint. He is still in age 3-4 trousers, with the waist at the tightest setting, and plays a lot of sport - I can see his ribs clearly when he showers.

I know he is fine, but worry that other parents/carers that get these letters (when the child is clearly healthy) will start to restrict food etc and give the children potentially eating disorders/bad relationship with food.

If these people think our children are overweight maybe they should have written to the GP to ask us to go in for assessment - and I know my GP will laugh her socks off when I tell her about my son being 'overweight'.

Absolutely ludicrous :0/

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LornaMM said on 01 December 2011

I have today rec'd a letter saying that my 4 1/2 year old son is overweight. This is absolutely ludicrous, and I am making a formal complaint. He is still in age 3-4 trousers, with the waist at the tightest setting, and plays a lot of sport - I can see his ribs clearly when he showers.

I know he is fine, but worry that other parents/carers that get these letters (when the child is clearly healthy) will start to restrict food etc and give the children potentially eating disorders/bad relationship with food.

If these people think our children are overweight maybe they should have written to the GP to ask us to go in for assessment - and I know my GP will laugh her socks off when I tell her about my son being 'overweight'.

Absolutely ludicrous :0/

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mrslucyp said on 15 July 2011

I fully agree with the other comments. I and many other mums at our school were extremely upset and angry at receiving letters saying our 4 years olds are overweight. We live in the country and our children cycle to school every day. They are active from the second they get up to the second they go to bed, playing out on their bikes, running, climbing, playing football. There is not an overweight child in our whole school. They are all slim children however my daughter and others in the 'overweight' category are of a very muscular build due to the amount of exercise they do. So I take great offence at a letter telling me my child should do more exercise and not sit in front of the TV for more than 2 hours at a time - they don't sit in front of the TV at all. They have a healthy diet of homemade meals incorporating their 5 a day and an active lifestyle. Perhaps they should have considered a questionnaire along with the primitive measurements to assess if they're targeting the right people with these letters...

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User563741 said on 12 June 2011

The data that is collected seems ot make no difference to services. There are no examples of what has changed because the data has been collected. There is also no mention that parents have an option to withdraw their child from this programme but they have to opt out each time the NHS visit the school. If this was so worthwhile why not ask parents to opt in rather than opt out? Is it because the screening and measurements are useful to the NHS administrators and planners and have no real benefit to children ? Obesity rates continue despite this programme which indicates to me it does not work, it produces incomplete data sets, and causes distress and anxiety.

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sazzle2011 said on 17 April 2011

I am fuming about this I agreed for my 10 year old daughter to be weighed etc I certainly was not expecting a letter expressing she is overweight to arrive on my doorstep... It has caused nothing but upset and paranoia from my daughter who now believes she is fat. She has started puberty and therofore has the curves of a young lady. She is far from overweight and the very concept is offensive. I know others who have suffered thios lack of self esteem and self concept largely based on this information. It is awful that it was ever allowed. My daughter eats a healthy diet and does alot of regular exercise and therefore this can only instigate eating disorders and appears to have no other benefit...

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sazzle2011 said on 17 April 2011

I cannot believe this has been accepted as useful data. My daughter and her friends have become paranoid and upset about their weight and being told they are overweight when they are clearly not. Therefore how has this helped anyone but Government statistics, I am fuming that this has been accepted and sent to homes with such possibilities of effecting self esteem. My daughter has started puberty and therefore has a young adults body at the age of 10 which is not considered and is a crucial age for self worth not criticism.

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debbiehmt said on 03 January 2011

I think it is rediculas that a child as young as 4 should have it's BMI taken. We recieved a letter stating my 4 year old daughter was very over weight, the weight they wanted her to be would mean she would weigh the same weight as her 2 year old sister! she is a small thing, not fat AT ALL, but as she is under the lowest centile for her height and her weight is normal for her age, combinded on the BMI makes her very over weight... A load of rubbish, when she hasn't even stopped growing, some children of that age haven't even lossed their puppy fat yet! The later stated that we should change our food and she sould be more active... we eat a good variety of homemade food and my daughter is very active for her age. The school advised me to throw the letter away as it was rubbish.

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User217515 said on 30 March 2009

My sister-in-law's child was measured (she's in y6) and came home crying as she has been told she's overweight. I know that it is important that the government have these statistics but she was measured in front of the whole class; something the program claims not to do. I feel children should have a say if they want to do this as it can be damaging for their self-esteem.

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Ciaran Brown said on 15 July 2008

This video is really good getting the childs view of measuring and weighing the child. Children were very good on camera and spoke very clearly.

I cant believe they are all so grown up now. LOL!!

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Bill said on 20 May 2008

This video does not tell us how to measure the weight and height of a child - although I think I can probably work that out myself!

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Useful links

NHS Choices links

The National Child Measurement Programme

This video explains how the National Child Measurement Programme can help improve NHS services for children. As part of the programme children are weighed and measured at school. Find out what else is involved and why it's important for your child to take part.

Media last reviewed: 08/04/2013

Next review due: 08/04/2015

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