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Contact Information:

Dr Laura Basterfield
+44 (0)191 208 5276

Study Location:

Devon County Council
County Hall Topsham Road

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Can embedding the MapMe intervention, a tool to improve parental acknowledgement and understanding of childhood overweight and obesity, in the National Child Measurement Programme lead to improved child weight outcomes at one year?

Medical Conditions

Childhood overweight and obesity

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Background and study aims
Child overweight can lead to serious short and long term health problems, resulting in high costs to the NHS and other services. Overweight affects 1 in 4 children starting school and 1 in 3 leaving primary school. Urgent action is needed to address this. Parents play a key role managing their children's weight but tend not to know when their child is overweight, and so are less likely to take action. All 4-5 and 10-11-year-olds in England are weighed and measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), and parents receive the results by letter. MapMe supports parents to act upon the NCMP result by providing: 1) 'body image scales' (images of children ranging from underweight to very overweight) to help parents to understand if their child is overweight; 2) information on the consequences of child overweight, healthy eating, physical activity and sources of support. MapMe was tested in about 300 overweight children who achieved a healthier weight 1 year later, when compared to overweight children whose parents did not receive MapMe. We now need to confirm these findings in a better study with more children, to understand how MapMe works, and if it offers value for money. The study aims to understand whether the MapMe intervention can reduce child overweight, and if so how and at what cost.

Who can participate?
Reception and Year 6 pupils (usual age 4 - 5 years and 10 - 11 years)

What does the study involve?
We will first talk to parents and health professionals to ask them: 1) how we can improve MapMe, and 2) what information we should collect to find out how MapMe is delivered and used. About 56,000 families who agree to take part in the NCMP across 9 Local Authorities will then be allocated by chance to one of 3 groups. Parents in each group will receive their child's NCMP results as usual, plus: Group 1 gets a letter with the paper-based MapMe body image scales and a link to the MapMe online materials after the NCMP measurement. Group 2 gets the same as Group 2 but also a booster letter 6 months later with a link to the MapMe online materials. Group 3 gets the standard NCMP measurement letters only. Groups 1 and 2 will be compared to group 3. All children will be weighed and measured again after 1 year. A selection of families will be invited to provide more information on child food intake and activity, and what help parents accessed, to help us understand how MapMe worked and if it is value for money. We will also ask some parents, and professionals who delivered MapMe, to tell us what they thought about it, and how it could be further improved. A Parent Involvement Panel has been created to ensure parents are involved across different stages of the research. To date members of a public involvement panel have played an important role in highlighting child overweight as a research priority and parents of primary school children have helped to shape the project and future public involvement.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants will not personally benefit from taking part. In the future, we will use the knowledge we get from this study to understand better how to communicate with parents about their child’s growth. Participants may find discussions about childhood weight status uncomfortable.

Where is the study run from?
Newcastle University (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
March 2020 to February 2024

Who is funding the study?
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (UK).

To understand whether the MapMe intervention can reduce child overweight, and if so how and at what cost

Interventional cluster randomized controlled trial

Start dates may differ between countries and research sites. The research team are responsible for keeping the information up-to-date.  

The recruitment start and end dates are as follows:

01 Sep 2021

31 Aug 2022


Intervention Type : Other
Intervention Description : The MapMe intervention includes body image scales (BIS) of known weight status for 4-5 and 10-11-year-old children based on the same British growth reference clinical thresholds that are used by the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) to inform parents of their child’s weight status. The BIS are designed to tap into the visual methods by which parents determine OW in children, to help them understand what a child with OW/OB looks like. The web-based format of MapMe shows parents the BIS and asks them to choose the image most resembling their child. Parents then enter their child’s height and weight (both provided in the NCMP letter), sex and date of birth (DOB); they are then shown the 3D image and weight status that matches that data, thus facilitating parental acknowledgment of weight status. Parents are also shown a 3D image of an adult in the same weight category as their child’s current category and given information about health risks of childhood OW, tapping into parental concerns of future OW in their child and raising awareness of potential health consequences. Information is included to support parents to prevent or address unhealthy weight gain in their child including brief advice on healthy eating, physical activity and signposts to sources of information and professional support, which include motivational and volitional materials for goal setting, practice, action and coping planning in family-based dietary and physical activity changes, positive family approaches focused on lifestyle rather than weight and positive family discussions focused on lifestyle rather than weight.

There will be two methods of delivery of the intervention:

a) Intervention 1: following the completion of child measurements by the NCMP parents will receive the standard post-measurement NCMP letter and a copy of the MapMe BIS in paper-based format and a link to the MapMe website. b) Intervention 2: this is identical to Intervention 1 except parents receive a ‘booster’ letter 6 months after the initial intervention with a reminder of the link to the MapMe website, prompting parents to continue to monitor their child’s weight status.

Comparator (Control): Those families receiving the usual delivery of the NCMP, that is, standard NCMP post-measurement letter only, will serve as the control condition. Following measurement completion parents will be informed of their child’s measurements and their weight status, and will then be sign-posted to the standard care as appropriate to the child’s weight status as offered within their LA.

You can take part if:

1. All genders.2. Age range: Reception and Year 6 pupils (usual age 4-5y and 10-11y) only3. Participants are registered with a school in a Local Authority carrying out the National Child Measurement Programme, and part of the MapMe trial and not opted out of the NCMP by parent or carer.

You may not be able to take part if:

Parents of children aged 4-5 and 10-11 years, not part of or opting-out of the NCMP

Below are the locations for where you can take part in the trial. Please note that not all sites may be open.

  • Devon County Council
    County Hall Topsham Road
    EX2 4QD
  • Newcastle City Council
    Civic Centre
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    NE1 8QH
  • Durham County Council
    County Hall
    DH1 5UQ
  • Redcar & Cleveland Council
    Kirkleatham Street
    TS10 1RT
  • Middlesbrough Council
    PO Box 500
    TS1 9FT
  • North Tyneside Council
    Quadrant The Silverlink North Cobalt Business Park
    North Tyneside
    NE27 0BY
  • South Tyneside Council
    Town Hall And Civic Offices Westoe Road
    South Shields
    NE33 2RL
  • Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council
    Municipal Buildings Church Road
    TS18 1LD
  • Isle of Wight Council
    Customer Service Centre County Hall High Street
    PO30 1UD
  • Coventry City Council
    Council House Earl Street
    CV1 5RR
  • Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council
    Town Hall Oriel Road
    L20 7AE
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
    Civic Centre Glebe Street
    Stoke on Trent
    ST4 1HH

The study is sponsored by Newcastle University and funded by NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Co-ordinating Centre (NETSCC); National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) (UK).

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for Trial ID: ISRCTN12378125

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