Expert comment on the Responsibility Deal’s calorie reduction pledge

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.

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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.