CMO report highlights the UK is failing its children

The report published on the 24th October by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, ‘Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays’ states that the evidence base is strong for events in early life affecting health and wellbeing in later life, and children in the UK are not doing as well as they should do to achieve good health and wellbeing, compared to their European counterparts.

The report focusses upon specific areas, and outlined the importance of intervening in the under-fives to prevent vitamin D deficiency, which may lead to rickets or fits, and recommends providing free vitamin D supplements to all under-fives. Obesity was identified as one of the four healthcare challenges, associated with a range of health and psychological problems during childhood. Strategies to address obesity must include age-appropriate interventions for children, as for some, the beginnings of lifelong obesity occur in childhood.

Promoting wellbeing was also identified as improving health outcomes throughout life, with physical activity and healthy eating being key positive contributing factors.

Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) states:
“Adopting healthy family behaviours during early childhood is key to ensuring healthier outcomes for children. It is important that under-fives have access to daily vitamin D supplementation, and that parents know that by making small changes in the early years of their children’s lives , around diet and activity, they can improve their children’s health now and in later life. The ITF welcomes the recommendations that strategies should focus on the early years to promote an improvement in the health and wellbeing of all children across the UK”.

For practical advice for parents, including Factsheets on Preventing Vitamin D Deficiency in Toddlers and Healthy Eating for Toddlers, visit the ITF’s resources for families:

1. The Infant & Toddler Forum brings together an independent, multi-disciplinary team of experts and practitioners from paediatrics, neonatology, health visiting, dietetics, and child psychology, to share new ideas and to debate the latest thinking in infant and toddler nutrition. Best practice guidance on food and feeding for all young families is paramount for children’s health and wellbeing now and in the future For more than nine years the Forum and its partners have strived to raise awareness and promote positive change in the field of toddler nutrition and feeding behaviour, with all guidance being in alignment with DH increased emphasis on early years intervention.

2. The Infant & Toddler Forum is supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Danone Baby Nutrition. The views and outputs of the group, however, remain independent of Danone Baby Nutrition and its commercial interest

i. Chief Medical Officer’s annual report 2012: Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays

Posted in News, Position StatementsTagged

Further Reading

  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist   Following his recent recovery from coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has publicly blamed excess weight for his need for intensive care. He has subsequently declared a war on the UK’s obesity crisis and is planning a post-pandemic public health drive to battle the growing problem.
  • Katie Fox, Primary School Teacher   Due to coronavirus, playgroups and nurseries are shut and those children due to start school in a few months will be out of routine and away from friends. It is understandable that many parents are worried about getting their children ready for September. Children learn and progress at different rates so there are no set criteria on what they need to be able to know or do when they first start nursery, but if they have had some experience learning at home it could help to make it a smoother transition. Turn taking games, imaginative play, reading, and developing fine and gross motor skills can promote independence, build confidence and help develop simple skills.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist Dr Maddy Harris, Clinical Psychologist   In times of crisis – such as the one we are currently living in – parents may find that the normal stresses of everyday life are magnified and additional worries and concerns emerge. Knowing how to cope may prove difficult, but an approach which has widely been discussed in the media and on social media is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).The premise of ACT is that fears and anxieties are seen as real and cannot be ‘challenged’ away, unlike with cognitive behavioural therapy. By concentrating on our actions we are able to work past our fears. This method may help those struggling with this new chaotic routine we find ourselves in. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with our top tips on how to apply this intervention.