National child measurement programme to commence
A programme designed to help health professionals understand patterns of child growth across Wales will begin this month.
The Child Measurement Programme – a national programme run by Public Health Wales – will collect information on the heights and weights of all reception aged children in Wales. The results will be analysed by health professionals on a local and national level to try and identify trends and monitor the health of children in Wales.
Dr Judith Greenacre, Director of Health Intelligence for Public Health Wales said “This Programme is very important because it will allow us to compare results at health board level.
“For the first time, we will have consistent data on childhood obesity at a local level to measure our progress against this important public health issue.
“By identifying key trends in each area, we will also be able to plan our health services better.”
Another key element of the Programme is the standardisation of measuring heights and weights to ensure the data provided is consistent.
Dr Ciaran Humphreys, consultant in Public Health Intelligence for Public Health Wales said; “At present we have no way of identifying and monitoring national trends and comparing between different areas because there is variation between when and how children are measured.
“This is particularly important in Wales, as Wales has one of the highest rates of obesity among secondary school children in Europe. Public Health Wales is working with its stakeholders to standardise the way every reception class aged child is measured across the country.”
The establishment of a programme follows the successful feasibility study carried out in 2009 by the Public Health Wales Observatory with support from other Welsh organisations.
A team led by Dr Ciaran Humphreys ran the study in 457 Welsh schools to test the feasibility of measuring all children in reception year and year 4 to identify trends in childhood heights and weights. The report recommended that a national childhood heights and weights programme be established to help inform strategy and service development and provide the basis for further research in the area.
The report was submitted to the Minister for Health and Social Services, who accepted the report and its recommendations. Measurement will commence in reception year and will be carried out by the school nurse and may be alongside the usual health checks.
Further information is available on the Public Health Wales website