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The National Child Measurement Programme

What is NCMP?

The National Child Measurement Programme is a mandatory screening programme led by Public Health England, delivered locally by the Local Authority and School Nursing team. Feedback to parents and schools before and after measurements is considered by the Local Authority and School Nursing team as to the most appropriate way to communicate the measurements to parents.

In Wiltshire, a joint letter from Wiltshire Council Public Health Team and Virgin Care School Nursing Team is sent to parents via schools. It informs parents of the process and gives parents the option to ‘opt out’. In recent years this has proved to be the most effective way of increasing the uptake of the measurement programme. Changes to the ‘opting out’ policy from government in May 2018 will not affect NCMP, and this system will continue.

All children in reception and Year 6 are invited to take part in the screening programme. Children are not routinely measured after Year 6, unless for specific health related conditions.

Why do we need to measure children?

Being overweight/obese is related to a higher risk of many health related conditions, including asthma, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, as well as mental wellbeing. The data allows Public Health teams to plan how to best use resources in supporting individuals, communities who need it most. As NCMP is delivered across the Country, Local Authorities can use the data to benchmark against other comparable Local Authorities.

With over 90% of children from all Wiltshire Primary Schools participating in the programme, we can draw confident conclusions about the data and monitor trends. As the programme has now been running for over 10 years, we hope to be able to track children from Reception to Year 6.

What are the NCMP results for Wiltshire

 

1 in 5 children in Reception are carrying excess weight (2016/17)

1 in 3 children in Year 6 are carrying excess weight (2016/17)

What do the measurements mean?

All children participating in NCMP have their height and weight measured with their shoes off. Their Body Mass Index (BMI) is then calculated. For children and young people we plot their BMI on a BMI Growth Chart against their age. There are 2 different charts; boys and girls. This is because boys and girls grow and start puberty at different stages. following different growth patterns at different ages.

BMI is a standardised measure which is non-intrusive and is evidence based to show those who are overweight i.e. above the 91st centile on the growth chart, at higher risk of developing obesity related health conditions. BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass or body fat but for the general population and for most children even those who are physically active, the BMI method is still an accurate method. Further tests can monitor muscle mass and body fat, but this isn’t suggested as something children would need.

For more information and guidance about the measurements please contact publichealth@wiltshire.gov.uk.

How can the school support families in NCMP?

  • Schools should take a positive view on NCMP and support the screening programme by giving the same consistent messages about it as Public Health and School Nursing
  • Talk to families who have concerns about participating in the programme and reassure them – It is useful for parents to know how their child is getting on in terms or their growth
  • Don’t make any judgements about children who are overweight to parents
  • Support families who have received a letter indicating their child is overweight – signpost to relevant services http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-weight-professionals