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

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Further Reading

  • By Melanie Pilcher and Dr. Gillian Harris Establishing bedtime routines for toddlers and young children
  • By Dr. Gillian Harris, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Applied Developmental Psychology at the University of Birmingham and ITF member Most parents will struggle at some point to get their toddlers to eat certain foods. Is toddler food refusal a sign of an eating disorder. or is it merely a phase? In the run up to Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Gill Harris provides practical advice to help parents tackle fussy eating in toddlers.  
  • By Lucy Upton, on behalf of the Infant and Toddler Forum On behalf of the members of the Infant and Toddler Forum, I am proud to announce the launch of a new infant feeding educational programme, which includes practical resources for frontline healthcare professionals (HCPs) working with parents and infants.