Skip to main content

Action on Sugar

National child measurement programme (NCMP): trends in child BMI


Today, Public Health England has published a review on the trends in children’s body mass index (BMI) from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) between 2006 to 2007 and 2018 to 2019. 

The report covers trends in:

  • Excess weight (overweight and obesity combined)
  • Obesity
  • Severe obesity

In order to access whether health inequalities are widening or narrowing, the trends are examined with different ethnic and socioeconomic groups.

Click here to access the report 

The NCMP measures the height and weight of over 1 million children aged 4 to 5 and 10 to 11 years old annually in primary schools in England. This report shows the trends in child BMI in a clear, easy to understand and visual way of charts and graphics. It is a useful tool for health professionals and policymakers who is working in the field of obesity, child weight management at local, regional and national level

Key findings:

  • Obesity and excess weight prevalence is showing a downward trend in Reception boys which is driven by a decrease in prevalence for all pupils apart from those in the most deprived areas which showed no change
  • Reception girls and Year 6 boys and girls are seeing an upward trend in the prevalence of obesity and excess weight which is driven by increases for pupils from the most deprived areas which is offsetting any decreases seen for pupils from the least deprived areas
  • For Reception girls, the White British ethnic group was the only ethnic group showing an upward trend
  • Severe obesity is increasing among Reception girls and Year 6 boys and girls
  • Inequalities are widening in obesity, excess weight, and severe obesity across all age and sex groups
  • This widening of inequalities is also seen when examining the slope index of inequality (SII) for obesity; the obesity inequalities gap is greater in Year 6 than in Reception and is widening at a faster rate

A summary of these trends are displayed in the chart below:

Table 1: PHE, Summary of trends in weight status by age and sex

Sheena Bhageerutty, Registered Associate Nutritionist for Action on Salt and Sugar said:

“Although the prevalence of obesity and excess weight is showing a downward trend in Reception boys, there is an upwards trend in obesity, severe obesity and excess weight in Year 6 children and girls in Reception demonstrating the alarming rate of obesity. Early years interventions have been shown to support optimal childhood development and have been well established. However, these findings highlight the lack of interventions being implemented by the government or local council in older children missing the second window of opportunity.

The upward trend is driven by more children from the most deprived backgrounds. Inequalities continue to rise and to reduce the widening gap, it is vital to change our food environment to ensure everyone has access and availability to healthy and affordable food.”



Return to top