Quality statement 3: Advice for parents or carers as part of the National Child Measurement Programme

Quality statement

Parents or carers of children are given advice about physical activity as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

Rationale

Children's participation in physical activity is important for their healthy growth and development. It is important to establish being physically active as a life‑long habit from an early age. Giving advice to parents and carers at key points during their child's development can be an effective way to 'make every contact count'. It can also lead to whole families establishing good physical activity habits.

The NCMP is delivered by all local authorities across England and involves measuring the weight and height of children aged 4 to 5 years and 10 to 11 years to assess overweight children and obesity levels in primary schools. Parents or carers receive feedback about their children's results. While it is not a mandated component of the programme, local authorities are encouraged to provide parents with their child's results. The National Child Measurement Programme Operational Guidance additionally highlights that parents generally want to receive their child's NCMP results, and that providing this information is an effective mechanism for raising awareness of the potential associated health consequences of excess weight. This therefore provides a good opportunity to give advice about physical activity, because parents are more likely to be receptive to thinking about behaviour change.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of local arrangements to ensure that parents or carers of children are given advice about physical activity as part of the NCMP.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

a) Proportion of children aged 4 to 5 years who are measured as part of the NCMP whose parents or carers are given advice about physical activity.

Numerator – the number in the denominator whose parents or carers are given advice about physical activity.

Denominator – the number of children aged 4 to 5 years who are measured as part of the NCMP.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Proportion of children aged 10 to 11 years who are measured as part of the NCMP whose parents or carers are given advice about physical activity.

Numerator – the number in the denominator whose parents or carers are given advice about physical activity.

Denominator – the number of children aged 10 to 11 years who are measured as part of the NCMP.

Data source: Local data collection.

Outcome

Proportion of children achieving the recommendations in the UK physical activity guidelines.

Data source: Contained within the Health and Social Care Information Centre's Health Survey for England: Health, social care and lifestyles, chapter on physical activity in children.

What the quality statement means for service providers, healthcare practitioners and commissioners

Service providers (such as school nursing services) ensure that their staff are trained to give parents or carers of children advice about physical activity and information about local opportunities to be physically active as a key component of the routine feedback that is provided to parents or carers of children who are measured as part of the NCMP.

Healthcare practitioners incorporate advice about physical activity within the routine feedback they provide to parents or carers of children who are measured as part of the NCMP.

Commissioners (Public Health England, NHS England and local authorities) ensure that they commission services from providers who include giving advice about physical activity as a key component of the routine feedback they provide to parents or carers of children who are measured as part of the NCMP. Commissioners may wish to monitor activity by requesting evidence of practice locally.

What the quality statement means for patients, service users and carers

Parents or carers of children whose weight and height is measured at school as part of the National Child Measurement Programme are given information about the ways in which their child can benefit from being physically active. They are also given information about what they can do to be more active, as well as what is available locally. The National Child Measurement Programme was established in 2005, and involves measuring the weight and height of Reception and Year 6 children at state schools in England.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Advice about physical activity as part of the National Child Measurement Programme

Parents and carers of children should be given written information advising them that:

  • All children should undertake a range of moderate to vigorous intensity activities for at least 60 minutes over the course of a day.

  • Children aged 5 years and over should undertake vigorous intensity activities, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 days a week.

  • All children should minimise the amount of time they spend being sedentary (being restrained or sitting) for extended periods (except time spent sleeping).

  • It is beneficial for them to get involved in physical activities with their children and to complete at least some local journeys (or some part of a local journey) with young children using a physically active mode of travel with the aim of establishing active travel as a life‑long habit from an early age.

Parents and carers of children should also be given written information about:

  • The benefits of physical activity and how enjoyable it is.

  • Local opportunities to be physically active.

The National Child Measurement Programme Operational Guidance includes specimen result letters to parents that can be adapted to include advice about physical activity for all children who take part in the programme. [Adapted from UK physical activity guidelines (Department of Health), Promoting physical activity for children and young people (NICE guideline PH17) recommendation 15, and expert opinion]

National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)

The NCMP was established in 2005, and involves measuring the weight and height of Reception and Year 6 children at state‑maintained schools, including academies, in England.

The NCMP has 2 key purposes:

  • To provide robust public health surveillance data on child weight status: to understand and monitor obesity prevalence and trends at national and local levels, inform obesity planning and commissioning, and underpin the Public Health Outcomes Framework indicators on excess weight in children aged 4–5 years and 10–11 years.

  • To provide parents with feedback on their child's weight status: to help them understand their child's health status, support and encourage behaviour change, and provide a mechanism for direct engagement with families. [Adapted from National Child Measurement Programme Operational Guidance, Public Health England]

Equality and diversity considerations

When giving parents and carers advice on physical activity for children, healthcare professionals should take into account the age and gender of the child, as well as the ethnicity and socioeconomic status of the family in order to communicate the information in a sensitive manner. All information given about physical activity should be accessible to people with additional needs, such as physical, sensory or learning disabilities, and to people who do not speak or read English.

When sharing information about local opportunities to be active, healthcare professionals should take into account the needs of children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, and the needs of children with mental health conditions, and learning and physical disabilities.