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Children and young people healthy weight

Wiltshire Council is committed to supporting young people to live in an environment that supports healthier lifestyles and whilst many of these challenges we face may take some time to take effect, we hope this page will give you the information you need to make the first step whether it is for yourself as a young person or as a parent for your child.

Children and young people today are growing up in an 'obesogenic' environment, which means they are faced with factors that make it easy to be overweight, such as more access to unhealthy foods and not being physically active. We have takeaways and fast food restaurants open during the day on the walk home from school, as parents we have safety concerns around children playing out in the street and there are more opportunities to sit in front of a TV or a gaming station.

Every council area in England takes part in the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). This involves measuring the height and weight of reception and year 6 children in state maintained schools every year. The results help us understand trends in underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obesity in children. This helps Wiltshire Council, the NHS and other organisations to plan what support might be needed and what kind of services to put in place.

You can calculate a child's body mass index (BMI) using the online calculator. You must enter the date of birth and gender for a child/young person as it is calculated differently to adults.

Up until the age of 18 years old you can use the BMI growth charts to plot your child's BMI using the centiles. If you have any concerns about your child's weight, or for more information, speak to your School Nurse or GP.

For more support on talking to your child about weight issues, see Weight Concern.

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Children and young people who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight as adults. Whilst children are still growing it is a good opportunity to ensure they aren't gaining excess weight, and if they are to try and make healthy lifestyle changes whilst they are young - it is much easier before the habits become ingrained.

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Top Tips for healthy weight in children and young people


Following guidance from the Eat Well Guide, children and young people shouldn’t be dieting to lose weight. Their bodies are still growing and need essential nutrients. Consider making some healthy swaps to improve eating habits.

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Research shows school food is often healthier than a typical packed lunch. Find out about your school's food menu by visiting your school's website. The School Foods Trust has a range of information for parents on healthy school food, including suggestions for a healthy packed lunch. Close
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure your child goes off to school with the right start to the day with these breakfast ideas. Find out if your school provides a healthy breakfast club. Close
Try  to encourage drinking water over a sugary drink. Use the Change4Life Sugar Smart app to find out how much sugar is in your favourite drinks. Close
As tempting as it might be to get a bag of chips, crisps or chocolate bar on the way home school, try taking a different route to avoid going past the shop, or pack a healthier snack for after school to avoid any temptation. Healthy snacks should be enjoyed as part of healthy diet and keeps you going until meal time. Close
Think about your child’s access to food in and outside of the home. There is plenty you can do to encourage healthy eating in the home, such as a fruit bowl in a visible place and limiting foods high in fat and sugar. Encourage healthy eating outside of the home; look at menus online before going out for food to choose a healthier option. Find out on which food outlets in Wiltshire have achieved our healthy catering Eat Out Eat Well Award. Close
A typical school day involves quite a bit of sitting down, so limiting sitting down time after school is a good idea. Children still have plenty of physical energy to burn. Encouraging children to play with their toys, dance to their favourite songs, help with the cooking or even getting them to tidy their room will all help in limiting how much time they spend sat down. Change4Life have plenty of fun ideas for children and the family to get more active. Close

Think twice about getting in the car. Look into whether active travel to school by walking, scooting or biking is an option.

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A good night’s sleep is key to a healthy weight. For top tips on improving sleep visit the Sleep Council.

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Most young girls give up participating in sport and physical activity during secondary school. However, research suggest that children whose mothers participate in regular physical activity are more likely to continue with sport. Consider what activities you might want to do together. Children and Young people should be aiming for 60 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week.

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What support is availble for children and young people?


Healthy Me is a healthy lifestyle programme for families with an overweight child aged 7-11 years old. Children and parents with learning disabilities are welcome to join Healthy Me. Tel: 01225 716674 or email: healthyme@wiltshire.gov.uk

To read a Healthy Me case study, go to the 'weight management service case studies' section at the bottom of this page.

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Shape Up 4 Life (SU4L) is a FREE 12 week weight management programme that supports adults and young people to lose weight and keep it off long term.

SU4L is run in groups of 12-15 people, during the day time and evenings in community settings. Each 1.5-hour weekly session consists of a 45-minute nutrition workshop covering topics such as snacking, portion sizes, fats and sugar. Followed by 45 minutes of light exercise such as circuits, boxercise, resistance bands and seated exercise.

This service is for adults with a BMI of over 30 or over 28 with co-morbidities, and for children from the age of 14 on/over the 91st centile. Children aged 14-16 need to be accompanied by an adult or guardian. To refer to this service simply call, email or fill in a simple online referral by visiting the newly launched Shape Up 4 Life Wiltshire Website.

Email: shapeup4life.wiltshire@nhs.net Fax: 44 1249431055 (this goes directly to SU4L secure nhs.net email account)           

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Sign up to Change4Life to hear about new healthy eating tips, recipes, competitions and offers to keep your family healthy together.

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Speak to your child's School Nurse if you have any concerns about your child's weight and would like support to make healthy lifestyle changes.

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Encourage your family to walk or cycle when you avoid using your car, plan a safe route to walk.

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3 month free swimming is available to children who are overweight and aged 4-11 years old who attend the Healthy Me programme.  Ask your School Nurse for more information. Tel: 01722 425154

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Ask about Junior Gym at your local Leisure Centre and find out about your local community for sports and physical activity. Leisure opportunities are also available for children and young people with learning disabilities.

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If you'd like to do more family outdoor activities, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have a range of activties to benefit your health and wellbeing for the whole family.

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To get support on achieving your healthy lifestyle goals you may want to seek support from our Health Trainers. The Health trainer team can offer 6 sessions of one-one support for healthy eating, increasing physical activity, reducing alcohol intake, stopping smoking and emotional wellbeing. They will help to build confidence and motivation to enable you to achieve your goals.

To read a Health Trainer case study, go to the 'weight management service case studies' section at the bottom of this page.

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Free weekly parkrun 5k events for all ages on Saturday mornings, walk, run, jog, volunteer, spectate.

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What is the NCMP?

The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of children in reception and year 6 in schools across the country every year. The NCMP was introduced in 2006 as part of efforts to tackle childhood obesity.  In 2013 responsibility for delivering the programme fell to local authorities as part of their new public health functions. Height and weight measurements are used to calculate weight status.  We collect this information because it is in the public interest to understand how many children are overweight, healthy weight or underweight. The data help us to understand weight issues in children and particularly how widespread obesity is and trends at local and national levels.  It helps us to make decisions about planning and commissioning services to address weight issues in children.

How do we collect the data?

The measurements are carried out by trained school nurses. Children are measured fully clothed, except for their coats and shoes, in a private space away from other pupils.
The information collected includes the child’s height and weight measurements together with their name, date of birth, gender, home address and postcode, NHS Number and ethnicity. This information about the child is needed because their age, gender, ethnicity and the place they live are known to influence their height and weight. Their name, date of birth and NHS Number is needed to link the child’s measurements to other information about the child. All this information is treated confidentially and held securely by Wiltshire Council. The information collected from all schools in Wiltshire will be gathered together and held securely by Wiltshire Council.  We will share the information with the child’s GP. No individual measurements will be given to school staff or other children, and all information will be treated confidentially. Once completed, we send parents and carers their child’s measurements together with information about healthy eating, being active and related activities available in Wiltshire Parents and carers will receive their child’s results and children in year 6 who are overweight or obese will be invited to attend Healthy Me. 

What do we do with the data?

All the information collected about the child will be sent by us to NHS Digital. NHS Digital is responsible for collecting health and care information to check how the NHS and social care services are doing, and to use this to improve the care provided to people across England.

The information collected about the child will also be shared by NHS Digital with Public Health England but in a de-personalised form only. This means Public Health England will not be able to identify the child. Public Health England is responsible for working to protect and improve the nation’s health.

Wiltshire Council, NHS Digital and Public Health England will use the information from the National Child Measurement Programme to better understand numbers and trends in child weight and body mass index (BMI). This helps with the planning of services to support healthy lifestyles in Wiltshire. No information will ever be published by Wiltshire Council, NHS Digital or Public Health England that identifies the child.

If a child was previously measured for the National Child Measurement Programme, NHS Digital may link the child’s current and previous height and weight measurements. It may also link their measurements with other information it holds about the child such as their dental survey results or the reasons for any visits they may have made to hospital. Linking the child’s information in this way helps better understand how and why the weight status of children is changing.

De-personalised information from the National Child Measurement Programme may also be shared by NHS Digital with other organisations, such as universities. This is to help improve health, care and services through research and planning. This information cannot be used to identify the child, and NHS Digital only ever shares information for research with the approval of an independent group of experts.

Parents and Carers can decide to exclude their child from the measurement by requesting their child doesn't take part in the programme. This is performed by returning an opt-out slip on the notification letter to the school. Under the General Data Protection Regulation, 6 lawful processes for data collection are described. Here is a list of the lawful processes:
1. The data subject has given consent to the processing of his or her personal data for one or more specific purposes
2. Processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract
3. Processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject
4. Processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject or of another natural person
5. Processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller
6. Processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection of personal data, in particular where the data subject is a child.

The National Child Measurement Programme’s lawful basis of processing is compliance with a legal obligation and as part of public interest in the area of public health. This means consent is not required.

For further information on the National Child Measurement Programme.

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Weight management service case studies

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Last updated: 14 June 2019 | Last reviewed: 14 June 2019