The National Child Measurement Programme: Why You Should Opt Out
The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) is a government-mandated program that measures the height and weight of all school children in reception (aged 4-5 years) and year 6 (aged 10-11 years). The data collected is used to track obesity levels in children and to develop interventions to tackle the problem.
However, there are a number of reasons why the NCMP is problematic and why I have opted out for my children.
The measurements are inaccurate
The NCMP uses stadiometers and weighing scales that are not always accurate, especially for young children. This means that the data collected may be inaccurate, which could lead to children being wrongly identified as overweight or obese.
BMI is not an indicator of health
The BMI (body mass index) measurement used by the NCMP is not a reliable indicator of health. BMI does not take into account factors such as body fat percentage, muscle mass, and bone density. A US study found that BMI reports “do not improve children’s weight status and may decrease weight satisfaction.”
The measurements can be stressful for children
Being weighed and measured in front of their peers can be a stressful experience for children, especially those who are already self-conscious about their weight. This stress can have a negative impact on their mental health. A study in 2020 found that “Parental identification of child overweight and obesity is associated with worse child mental health, independent of child body weight. Parents should be aware of the potential stigma and mental health difficulties associated with labelling a child as overweight.”
The program does not address the underlying causes of obesity
The NCMP focuses on measuring children’s weight and height, but it does not address the underlying causes of obesity, such as genetics, poor diet and lack of exercise. This means that the program is not effective in helping children to lose weight or improve their health.
There are no consequences for opting out of the National Child Measurement Programme
If you choose to opt out of the NCMP, there are no consequences and your child will still receive the same health care and education as other children.
If you are concerned about the NCMP, you can opt-out by contacting your local NHS service. I have provided a template letter below. You can also find more information about the program and how to opt-out on the NHS website.
Here are some additional reasons why you might want to opt out of the NCMP:
- You believe that the program is invasive and unnecessary.
- You are concerned about the privacy of your child’s health information.
- You do not want your child to be stigmatized for their weight.
- You believe that there are better ways to address the problem of obesity.
- Your child has a history of body image issues.
Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to opt out of the NCMP is up to you. However, I hope that this blog post has provided you with some information to help you make an informed decision.
The National Child Measurement Programme Opt Out Letter Template
Here is a letter you can use to opt out of the National Child Measurement Programme. In Sheffield, it should be posted to
The Sheffield 0-19 Service, Sheffield Childrens NHS Foundation Trust, Centenary House, 55 Albert Terrace Road, Sheffield S6 3BR
[Your Phone Number]
[Your Email Address]
To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to inform you that I am opting out of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) for my child.
[Your child’s name]
[Their date of birth]
[The name of the school that they attend]
I believe that the current system of weighing children in school is not fit for purpose and has the potential to be a contributing factor towards negative body image and poor mental health in childhood and subsequently in adulthood.
The NCMP is based on the use of BMI, which is a flawed measure of health. BMI does not take into account factors such as muscle mass, bone density, and body fat distribution. As a result, it can misclassify children as overweight or obese, even when they are healthy.
The NCMP also sends the message to children that their weight is more important than their overall health. This can lead to children developing negative body image and eating disorders.
I am concerned about the potential impact of the NCMP on my child’s mental health. In my opinion, it is more important for my child to focus on being active and healthy, rather than worrying about their weight.
Thank you for your understanding.
[Your Printed Name]