Managing pre-school weight issues - what is your role and when to refer?

Healthy way logo

Child weight management is an important public health issue for which no single organisation has responsibility.

Organisations can however work together and every professional who has contact with pre-school children can take responsibility for their part in supporting families and children. The modules in this online resource have provided you with information on why pre-school child weight is important, how to identify weight issues in pre-school children, and how to communicate with parents about their child’s weight and related lifestyle issues (i.e. physical activity and diet).

By pulling together this information, you now have the evidence-based knowledge and skills to support families to promote a healthy weight in pre-school children.  

Whether you work in a children’s centre, are part of the health visiting team or work in a GP practice, try asking yourself “what can you do to help this family manage their child’s weight?”

Here’s a summary of the steps you might take to support a family with a pre-school child (drawing on the communication skills outlined in the communicating with parents about child weight module throughout):

  1. Identify the extent of the child’s weight issue and any potential medical concerns
  2. Ask the parents about why they think the child might be over- or under-weight
  3. Ask the parents about the child’s physical activity and diet
  4. Support the parents to set an action plan to improve either physical activity and/or diet
  5. Consider whether any onward signposting (e.g. HENRY) or referral (e.g. to GP) is appropriate at this stage
  6. Arrange for a follow up meeting with the parent

Health visiting team only – Whilst the first point of call is to support the family yourself, there may be some circumstances where you feel further medical support is required.  For example, you may have already followed the family up for six months and find the child’s weight is not improving, or perhaps you are concerned there might be underlying medical issues. In these instances, it is important you continue to support the family with their physical activity and diet alongside any referral you make. 

These links contain flow charts to help decide when onward referral to the GP is appropriate for underweight children and for overweight children


Below is a short quiz containing questions on what you have learnt throughout this module. If it takes a number of goes to get all of the questions correct, please note down each score in your logbook in the space provided. The main purpose of this quiz is to embed learning, and provide you with the opportunity to evaluate your learning. Please remember that we are focusing on the effectiveness of this website and not auditing your practice.

Once you have all the questions correct you will be provided with a certificate of module completion