On December 11th 2013 Public Health England [PHE] published the National Child Measurement Programme figures for 2012/2013 showing, for the first time, that 11yr old obesity levels appear to be falling. Welcome though this may be, the Child Growth Foundation was quick to point out in the national press coverage, that the government shouldn’t be too cocky about the figures and similar figures over the next two years are required before it can break open the champagne. For the Foundation, the really satisfying news however is that its Leicester Height Measure is used in the NCMP and is its equipment of choice. It is featured on p1 of the PHE announcement. See Link = [https://www.gov.uk/government/news/latest-phe-national-child-measurement-programme-figures-available].
This means that the Leicester has been continuously “recommended” by the Department of Health since the Programme’s inception in 2005. It was the equipment used in the video made by the Department to train every school nurse working on the Programme and is featured in the NCMP Guidance documents issued every year [https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/251917/NCMP-guidance-October-2013-2.pdf]. Though different scales are used for recording NCMP weights, when it comes to height assessment, the Leicester is without peer in its ability to deliver the pinpoint accuracy needed to assess height and BMI [Body Mass Index].
Whilst many other health programmes have seen their funding cut or cancelled altogether, funding for the NCMP is guaranteed. It is regarded as the jewel in the crown of the NHS’ public health programme and is the envy of the world. Although the NCMP assesses children’s growth only at reception Yr and Yr 6 in primary school, obesity specialists want to see the school nursing services extend it to cover at least another school year. With growth measurement now being a requirement when a child is 2 -2½yrs old it should also be an investment for health visiting services as well.
Article by Tam Fry FRSA, Honorary Chairman Child Growth Foundation & Spokesman for National Obesity Forum
View the Leicester Height Measure