What happens in the child measurement programme?
If you have a child in Reception (ages four and five) or Year Six (ages 10 and 11), you will receive a letter with more information from your local authority before your child is measured.
On the day, trained staff will weigh your child and measure their height, in their clothes at school. They'll ensure 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 is measured?
This will tell you if your child is in the healthy weight range. If your child is overweight, you can get support from your local NHS services.
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 authority to find out their child's measurements.
The letter sent by your local 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. This can be used by your whole family.
If you're concerned that your child might be underweight or overweight, speak to your GP, school nurse or health visitor, who can offer 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 age, height 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:
- healthy weight
- very overweight
About one in five children in Reception are overweight or obese, rising to one in three in Year Six.
Because the number of overweight children has gradually increased, we have slowly become used to it.
It can be difficult to tell if your child is overweight as they may look similar to other children of their age. By recording their measurements, we can get an accurate picture.
Research shows that if your child is overweight now, they are more likely to be overweight as an adult, which can lead to health problems in later life. 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, so the decision of whether to talk to your child about them is entirely yours.
Some parents or carers like to discuss the results with their child and then decide together whether to make any changes to the family's diet or activity levels. Others decide to make subtle changes without telling them.
There is no right or wrong answer, and the decision depends on your individual circumstances.
Find out more about talking to your child about weight on the Weight Concern website.
Where can I get help?
If your child's results surprise or worry you, speak to your GP or school nurse for advice and support.
Your local authority should include a contact number with the results letter. You can call this if you want further information or advice from your local NHS.
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.
If your child is overweight, our advice for parents of overweight children can help you decide what steps to take and tell you what help is available.
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 healthy weight tool.