In response to the announcement from the Department of Health about the Responsibility Deal’s calorie reduction pledge, the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) supports the commitment to cut and cap calories, but advises that there are more effective steps that can be taken to address obesity in the early years.
Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the ITF, commented: “Andrew Lansley has said that eating and drinking too many calories is at the heart of the nation’s obesity problem. Companies can work towards cutting calories in food over time, but for today’s toddlers at risk of becoming obese it is best to limit the portion sizes of high calorie, low nutrient foods that they eat now and only offer them once or twice per week. The ITF has developed portion sizes for 1-3 year olds to help achieve this without compromising the nutritional intake of toddlers. Our advice can help parents and carers offer young children appropriate amounts and contribute to the fight against childhood obesity. Research carried out by the ITF has shown that 77 per cent of parents have never received clear advice about toddler portions. We have developed portion sizes for all five food groups to address the lack of guidance on how much we should be feeding pre-school children. Our evidence-based advice can help reassure parents and carers who worry their children aren’t eating enough and dissuade them from covering toddlers to eat larger portions than they need to.”
In addition to its portion sizes recommendations, the ITF’s ‘Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers’ is a practical, easy-to-follow guide on mealtime behaviour to encourage, and how best to manage mealtimes.