In October 2019, we launched a campaign to raise awareness of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) and let parents know that they could opt out of the scheme. We ran a short survey to gain a general opinion on how useful parents felt the NCMP had been for them and we gathered individual responses on whether parents felt that the NCMP had had a negative impact on their family. See below for results. Also read our October 2021 article in Medium, “The National Childhood Measurement Programme: Opt out of the shame-and-blame game” here.


In collaboration with Body Happy Org, on September 12th, 2022, we launched a fully resourced information pack, so that you have all the information that you need to make an informed decision about whether to consent to your child participating in the National Child Measurement Programme.

The pack is broken down into accessible, bitesize sections, with easy-to-digest information, practical advice and useful tools and approaches for both parents, caregivers and schools.

Download the free resource below. 


The survey received a total of 100 responses.

77% of parents responded that they felt the current system of weighing and measuring children in school had not been helpful to them or their child. 

26% of parents felt that the NCMP had a negative impact on them or their child. 


The primary objective of the NCMP is to collect data for National Statistics reporting and Public Health England. A secondary outcome of the NCMP is a letter sent to parents, informing them of their child’s individual weight category. Some local authorities will also offer a referral to a “weight management programme” or a general follow up with parents; however, this is not consistent across the country. 


We were contacted by many parents of children who had been incorrectly labelled in the “overweight”, “very overweight”, and “obese” categories. These letters caused confusion and stress, and undermined their parental intuition with regards to knowing what was best for their child.

There is currently no study that has researched the negative implications of the post-measurement process. Many of the parents who contacted us, told us that they did not communicate the information to their child; however, it is important to consider the number of parents who do share their child’s NCMP weight status with their child and the negative consequences that can ensue. Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating are more prevalent in children whose parents encourage weight loss. 

Even when parents do not discuss their child’s results, all children will be aware of being weighed and will have thoughts relating to their body weight and what it might mean. Some children are even aware of their weight and or BMI from the process. During our campaign, a parent told us that her child’s Reception class had been “rating” themselves in the playground, according to their BMI number:

“The kids all knew where each other were in relation to each other’s weight or BMI, I think from discussing and comparing it among themselves afterwards. My thought was just the fact that the school had made a point of measuring, made the children suddenly start comparing and talking about and looking at each other in terms of physical differences in weight, size in the class. It was certainly the spark that got them thinking and talking about it.”


Children are particularly susceptible to weight stigma and bullying.

In 2017, WHO reported that children in higher-weight categories were 63% more likely to experience bullying. The NCMP places children into these higher weight categories, without taking other health indicators into account.

Furthermore, Black children are more likely to be placed in the “very overweight” and “obese” weight categories due to the racially-biased method of calculating BMI. Adjustments for Black children are not used, despite the research available, which not only invalidates child-weight data in areas that are ethnically diverse but increases the risk of weight stigma, bullying, and negative body image for Black children.

Focusing on weight in childhood can cause children to feel negatively about themselves and their bodies. Poor body image and a preoccupation with weight increase the risks of food restriction and developing eating disorders later on. In a 2015 study, food restriction in 5-year old girls was correlated with weight bias favouring thinner bodies, with almost half of the girls expressing an internalisation of the “thin ideal” and 34% intentionally restricting their food intake. The sharp increase in children suffering from eating disorders is a worrying trend. According to the recent Children’s Commissioner’s report on the state of children’s mental health services, published in January 2020, there has been a 50% increase in children accessing services for eating disorders, up from 2016/17 and it isn’t only older children and teenagers who are at risk. The teacher’s union NASUWT published survey results in 2017, revealing that teachers had encountered children as young as 4 who were struggling with eating disorders. 


We believe that the current system of weighing children in school should be stopped and fully reviewed for its efficacy and negative impact on children’s mental health. We would like to emphasise that mental health is equally as important as physical health in children and weight stigma in particular can have long lasting negative consequences to emotional wellbeing and quality of life. Children who are preoccupied with their body size and weight are at a greater risk of developing disordered eating and eating disorders later on. We need a better, holistic-centred approach of monitoring children’s health.

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