Background: To measure trends in child growth and combat rising levels of obesity, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Manchester have developed Children's Health and Monitoring Programme (CHAMP). CHAMP collects an annual measurement for primary school children (aged 4 to 11) in Manchester, England, and offers feedback of Body Mass Index (BMI) results to parents via a secure website. No similar digital tool exists that both provides high resolution data on the trajectory of child growth and acts as a feedback and monitoring system. This study investigates how effectively this intervention engaged with parents and supported the reduction of childhood obesity.
Methods: Anonymised CHAMP registration and BMI data (UK1990) were collected between September 2013 and March 2017 from a total of 63337 children. BMI change over time was compared in matched cohorts of 24,551 children, whose parents had and had not registered with the CHAMP website. Qualitative focus groups and interviews were used to explore perspectives among 29 key informants (parents, school and healthcare professionals) from six schools in Manchester.
Results: Overweight children whose parents had not registered with the CHAMP website gained a median of 0.14 BMI centile between measurements, whilst children of CHAMP-registered parents reduced their BMI by a median of 0.4 centile per year (P=0.02). Normal weight children of registered parents decreased their BMI by 0.3 centile each year, whilst those not registered increased their BMI by 0.8 centile per year (P=0.001). There was no significant association between registration and BMI centile change in children already classified as obese (P=0.34). A qualitative, thematic analysis revealed that the annual measurement programme was widely supported by parents and staff. A range of psychological and behavioural impacts on families were reported as a result of the monitoring and feedback processes, in some cases prompting reflection and monitoring of health and lifestyle choices.
Conclusion: These early findings indicate that CHAMP, as both a monitoring system and a digital intervention, could encourage positive lifestyle change and support healthier child growth trajectories.