Weighing children has been an integral part of monitoring health since the 19th century - when Dr Edward Reynold declared “Nothing is more important in the routine care of infancy than the daily weighing of the child.”
Since then, whether children should be weighed has caused some debate. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver even weighed in on the subject in 2015 - encouraging schools to weigh pupils more often.
Childhood obesity now affects 41 million children worldwide. Can weighing children help to reduce this figure or is it worsening the problem? Read on, then let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Why children should be weighed
According to the World Health Organisation weighing takes place “to see how the child is growing, how the child is recovering from a previous illness, or how the child is responding to changes that have been made in feeding or care.”
The NHS adds it is important that your children is measured to tell “if your child is in the healthy weight range. If your child is overweight, you can get support from your local authority or NHS services.”
“(Weight) is also used for the accurate calculation of drug doses, intravenous and oral fluid replacement and oral parenteral feeds,” according to the Royal College of Nursing.
Jamie Oliver has published a crisis strategy to combat childhood obesity, in which he’s described weighing children as the “jewel in the crown” to reduce the issue.
The argument against weighing children
The potential social impact of knowing weight is the main argument against weighing.
“My mum and nan weighed me as a child,” one parent recalled, “I’ve still ended up with a weight problem and I can’t tell you how degrading and emotionally damaging it was and how ‘picked on’ I felt by those who should love me regardless.
“Of course, my mum and nan didn’t do this maliciously at all, but the impact this has on a developing young mind cannot be underestimated.”
According to UCL, “Researchers found that obese boys and girls were about 50% more likely to be bullied than their normal-weight classmates.”
What the NHS says about weighing children
“About one in five children in Reception are overweight or obese, rising to one in three in Year Six,” an NHS source told the metro.
“Because the number of overweight children has gradually increased, we have slowly become used to it.
“It can be difficult to tell if your child is overweight as they may look similar to other children of their age. By recording measurements, we can get an accurate picture.”
To help address this issue, an initiative called NHS CHAMP has been set up in Manchester.
What is NHS CHAMP?
Manchester’s School Health Service has offered to weigh every primary aged child (45,000 children) annually. NHS CHAMP (NHS Children’s Health & Monitoring Programme) invites parents to view their children’s results every year in order to get a better picture of their health and means issues can be addressed earlier, using the data.
“We know that children are starting school heavier than their predecessors,” Sarah Vince-Cain from NHS CHAMP told Marsden. “We now have data to help us understand how this maps across diverse populations and to explore why this phenomenon applies more to children of certain population groups than others.
Read more about NHS CHAMP here.
What is the conclusion?
Health experts strongly recommend weighing children, however precautions should be in place to keep readings private and ease concerns of parents.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Health Select Committee and a former GP, said: “A survey in Newcastle showed that parents tend to underestimate their children’s weight. It’s about catching them before they slip into obesity.
“Parents want information and the best thing they can do is cut sugar out of their children’s diets. The assumption that parents know that their children are slipping into problems is just not right.”
Sarah Vince-Cain from NHS CHAMP told us: “Behaviour change theory tells us that positive lifestyle changes are unlikely to happen without an initial awareness. NHS CHAMP invites parents to understand their children's growth pattern and embeds the philosophy that children should be able to grow within the healthy range, eating well and staying active. We have found that parents welcome honest, trustworthy feedback regarding their children's growth.”
Scales for weighing children
Marsden M-425: This scale has a separate indicator to keep weight readings discreet. It is Class III Approved, highly robust and lightweight. It has a 220kg capacity and accuracy to 50g (when weighing below 150kg).
Marsden M-410: This is a baby scale and toddler scale for younger children. It has a 50kg capacity and accuracy to 10g. The baby weighing pan slides off, revealing a floor scale platform for children to stand on.
Let us know your views on weighing children by posting in the comments section below.
For more information about any scales for weighing children, call 01709 364296 or contact us here.