Babies and children * Weight loss

UK child measurement programme flawed

UK child measurement programme  flawed Weight and height vary across the day

A government measurement programme may be incorrectly classifying school children as being overweight, a study has found.

In England, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) annually measures the weight and height of Year 6 (aged 11) schoolchildren.

But children’s height and weight can vary depending on the time of day the measurements are taken, researchers from the University of Worcester found.

The researchers measured the weight and height of 74 Year 6 children to find out what effect the time of day had on the children's body mass index (BMI).

They found that children’s BMI increased in the afternoon, due to a decrease in height throughout the day. And in girls, weight also increased during the day.

As a result, this led to three children being re-categorised between morning and afternoon; two children who would have been labelled of healthy weight in the morning were overweight in the afternoon, and one child moved from the overweight to very overweight category.

People who take measurements in the National Child Measurement Programme have to follow procedures, but none of the protocols state what time of day measurements should be carried out.

Researchers warned that children labelled as overweight or very overweight were more likely to experience social discrimination.

Professor Derek Peters, who supervised the research, said: “It is important to remove as much error from the results as possible by, for example, regular calibration of the measurement instruments, following the set protocols for measurement, regular training and re-training of the different people taking the measurements.

“Standardisation of the timing of taking the measurements is one simple revision to the procedures that could help to limit the impact of at least one of these potential 'error' variables.”

The study is published in the journal Child: Care, Health and Development.

This article was published on Mon 25 July 2011

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