Child Weight & Growth
Published: 13 December 2016
Primary 1 Body Mass Index (BMI) statistics
Children's weight and growth is an important marker of their general nutrition and physical health. If a child is short for their age or under- or overweight this may be indicative of a health problem. Child growth references are widely used as a tool for detecting children who are not growing properly or who are under- or overweight. The growth references show the range of values of weight and height for each age for a defined population against which the growth of children is assessed.
As well as being used by health professionals for assessing growth in children and helping in the early diagnosis of illness, growth references are also an important public health tool. They are used to detect trends in growth, or the prevalence of under- or overweight in the child population, and identify where public health responses are required. In common with other countries in the developed world, the level of obesity among children in Scotland is a continued concern. The Scottish Government has developed policy in relation to healthy eating and preventing obesity in Scotland, including Healthy Eating, Active Living: An Action Plan to Improve Diet, Increase Physical Activity and Tackle Obesity and Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland: A Route Map Towards Healthy Weight
All NHS Boards in Scotland provide a child health programme where children are offered routine reviews at various stages of their life. Height and weight measurements are collected at the Primary 1 review and the majority of Boards record results on the child health school system (CHSP School). The measurements recorded on CHSP School can be used to derive estimates of the prevalence of overweight and underweight children in Primary 1 in Scotland. Statistics on the proportion of children in Primary 1 classified as overweight, obese, severely obese, and underweight according to the UK 1990 growth reference standards are published annually. Information by school year is available by NHS Board, Council Area, Community Health Partnership, gender and Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) quintile.
Some historical statistics are also available for pre-school children aged around 3.5 years (latest available statistics are for children born in 2001) and children in Primary 7 and Secondary 3 (latest available statistics are for school year 2004/05). These data are available for a limited number of boards who recorded height and weight measurements on the child health pre-school and school systems.
Information is also available from the Scottish Health Survey which includes estimates of the proportion of under- and overweight children in Scotland aged 2 to 15 years.