It is the very early stages of life that dietary habits are ingrained, which gives us a window of time when something can be done to improve nutrition. It is imperative that we deploy early intervention strategies to ensure the prevention of obesity.
Professor Christine Pascal - Centre for Research in Early Childhood
Establishing good food habits in children whilst they are young can help them to eat more healthily as they get older, impacting upon their long term health as an adult. With almost a quarter of UK children overweight or obese by the time they start reception class in school, there is a clear need to support healthy eating from an early age.
Childhood obesity is regarded as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century (World Health Organisation) so it needs to be a focus for parents and families as well as childcare providers.
We know that the food children eat, and the habits they develop around food in their early years, set the pattern for the rest of their lives. Children now spend more time in childcare and parents have become increasingly ‘time poor’ balancing work and family commitments. With the introduction of the thirty hours childcare, early years settings play an important role in laying the foundations for good healthy eating habits.
Information within the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation stage (EYFS) around food and nutrition is the legal minimum requirement that is required, however as best practice in order to meet the needs of the children in your care and the families that you support, it is recommended that you consider additional guidance and information.
More than 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese when they begin school.
Almost 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school.
Excess weight and obesity rates are among the highest in the South West and concentrated in the most deprived areas - rates almost twice that as found in the more affluent areas of Torbay.
If your setting is based within an area of deprivation, you should consult with parents and families around how you can support them in these areas.
For more information visit the main Nutrition section.
Eat Better, Start Better
Getting children eating well for life means starting early. Whether you run a nursery, work in a children’s centre, look after children as a childminder or if you oversee early years education in a local authority, Action for Children are here to help you deliver great food for under-fives.
Our Eat Better, Start Better guidance and supporting material has been developed to help early years providers and practitioners to meet the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) welfare requirement for the provision of healthy, balanced and nutritious food and drink.