Background: In England, the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) annually measures the weight and height of Year 6 schoolchildren (age 10-11 years). While measurement protocols are defined, the time of measurement within the school day is not. This study examined the impact of school-day variation in weight and height on NCMP body mass index (BMI)-determined weight category in Year 6 children.
Methods: Standing height and weight were measured in morning and afternoon sessions in 74 children, boys (n= 34; height: 141.16 ± 7.45cm; weight: 36.48 ± 9.46kg, BMI: 18.19 ± 3.98kg/m2) and girls (n= 40; height: 144.58 ± 7.66cm; weight: 42.25 ± 11.29kg; BMI: 19.97 ± 3.98kg/m2) aged 11 ± 0.3 years.
Results: In the whole sample, height decreased (Mean =-0.51cm, 95% CI: -0.39 to -0.64cm, P= 0.01), weight did not change (Mdn = 36.40 to 36.35, P= 0.09) and BMI increased (Mdn = 18.04 to 18.13, P= 0.01). In girls weight increased (Mdn = 41.40 to 41.60, P= 0.01). BMI percentile increased (Mdn = 57th to 59.5th centile, P= 0.01). One girl increased in BMI category from morning to afternoon according to the clinical cut-offs (≤2nd, >91st and >98th) and three girls increased BMI category according to the population monitoring cut-offs (≤2nd, ≥85th, ≥95th).
Conclusions: School-day variation in height (and in girls alone, weight) impact upon increased BMI and BMI percentile in afternoon versus morning measurements in Year 6 children. Although not reaching statistical significance, resultant variation in categorization at the individual level may lead to unwarranted follow-up procedures being initiated. Further research with larger samples is required to further explore the impact of daily variability in height and weight upon both clinical and population monitoring BMI-determined weight status categorization in the NCMP.