Should the NHS do more to encourage patients to use metric?

Sometimes, the NHS needs to measure patients’ weight and height. The NHS records their weight and height internally in metric units but often tells the patients their weight and height in imperial units, which is preferred by the vast majority of Britons. This requires conversions. During the pandemic, the Government used metres exclusively for social distancing information. We use grams and kilograms for recipes, food purchases and the gym. We are all familiar with these units. So why does the NHS convert from metres to feet and inches and from kilograms to stones and pounds for its patients?

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GWR2023 reflects our measurement muddle

Today, we start the year with the 2023 edition of Guinness World Records, a famous annual publication. Obviously, this publication would not be possible without measurement. Unlike some foreign language versions of GWR2023, the English version is published with dual units to make allowances for metrication laggards like the UK and USA. GWR2023 contains some measurements in metric only and a few in imperial only, mainly related to records in the US, but the vast majority of measurements are predominantly expressed in dual units.

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Understanding body weight and height in metric units

It was inevitable that the selection of London to host the Olympic Games would bring into focus some of the consequences of the UK’s measurement muddle. Metric Views looks at one aspect, the measurement of body height and weight, measured in metric for athletes, and in imperial for many others following the custom of previous generations.

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