A new online tool to raise awareness of the invisible obesity epidemic
By Dietitian Sarah Vince-Cain, part of the team behind NHS CHAMP, a unique child measurement programme based in Greater Manchester that uses data to help understand and target children at risk of weight-related illnesses.
With research suggesting that parents are often unable to identify obesity in their own children, we developed a new animated web tool, CHAMP OnTrack, to help tackle childhood obesity in Manchester. The animation seeks to increase participation in Children’s Health and Monitoring Programme (NHS CHAMP), a programme unique to Manchester which goes beyond the remit of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) by feeding back the height and weight of every primary aged child to their parents every year via a digital platform. Rather than receive feedback via letter, parents are invited to register with NHS CHAMP in order to view their child’s results online. So far 21,000 families have registered with the website.
The partnership includes Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester’s Health eResearch Centre. It is also supported by Health Education England.
A child’s growth pattern is a fundamental indicator of health and wellbeing. Last year NHS CHAMP collected the growth information of over 45,000 pupils in 137 schools. We are really beginning to understand how children in Manchester are growing and the number of children at risk of weight related illness. It’s much easier for parents to make small changes early on in a child’s development; the first step is to engage parents in the conversation and encourage them to view their children’s results.
Ben Green, Gamification Expert at the University’s Health eResearch Centre was involved in creating OnTrack:
“We know from the evidence that most of us are unable to accurately assess a child’s growth by eye. NHS CHAMP gives parents access to tools and data that removes the guess work, meaning that getting support to change is one step closer.
“With CHAMP OnTrack we wanted to speak to people, not talk at them. We used techniques that make it much more of an experience than might be expected, under an aspiration towards inspiring change rather than imposing or demanding it.”
To view the animated resource please visit www.champontrack.com and to find out more about NHS CHAMP visit www.champ.mft.nhs.uk
 The University of Manchester’s Health eResearch Centre (HeRC) delivers large scale, population wide health research by harnessing the power of information and technology. They deliver more than 40 eHealth research projects and produce actionable analytics for NHS partners by turning under-used health information into new knowledge. For more information please visit their website www.herc.ac.uk