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HSCIC Correction to the Sun and Daily Mail articles on Under-12s weighing more than 15st

23 February, 2016

February 23 2016

This correction is in response to figures used in the Sun and Daily Mail, which stated the number of children in state schools in year 6 in 2014/15 who had a weight in excess of 95.2kg (approx. 15 stone) had doubled compared to 2013/14.

This interpretation of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) data is incorrect.

HSCIC analysis, which was shared with interested journalists ahead of today's press articles, shows 156 children weighed 15 stone or over in 2014/15, compared to 176 in 2013/14.

We understand the incorrect figure for 2014/15 referred to in news articles had been calculated by counting suppressed records within the NCMP data files. However, these data are not all suppressed due to weight.

Records with one or more "extreme" measurement (height, weight or BMI) will have all measurements suppressed within the dataset. So, for example, a record with an extreme height will have all three measurements suppressed.

Measurements have been defined as being extreme if they fall above the 99.995th percentile or below the 0.005th percentile derived from British 1990 growth reference charts. This approach takes into account child age and sex.

We do advise caution when using figures within the NCMP as although we take care to reduce the possibility of erroneous records appearing within the dataset and set restrictions on the maximum and minimum heights and weights which can entered; erroneous records do sometimes still appear in the dataset which contains over 1.1m records. 

Therefore, our published analyses concentrate on the proportion of children who are obese in an area or demographic group rather than looking at individual records where the extreme outliers may be incorrect.  This is standard statistical practice.


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