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.

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