Infant and Toddler Forum supports call to action on childhood obesity

The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) welcomes the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) call for an action group to be set up to tackle childhood obesity in England.

The UK is facing a dietary crisis. Public Health England estimates that almost a third of 10-11 year olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese.i Maternal obesity in the UK is risingii – around 16 per cent of women are obese at the start of their pregnancy.iii Diets today are too high in sugar and some are low in important micronutrients such as, iron, folate, iodine, calcium and potassium.

Judy More, paediatric dietitian and ITF member, said: “Children who become overweight are eating more than they need – either through excessively large portions of food or too many high energy snack foods and sweet drinks. The Infant and Toddler Forum have developed resources to give parents guidance on suitable portions sizes for toddlers as it is this age when obesity can develop. Dental decay is also seen in children who have an excess of sweet food and drinks, and iron deficiency anaemia in those that are offered a poor diet without enough iron rich foods. This call to action from the RCGP is an important reminder that we need to work together and act earlier to raise awareness of the impact poor nutrition has on a child’s health, now and in the future.

Evidence is slowly building to reveal a connection between the health of the mother and later health of the child, suggesting that improving the nutrition and health of women before and during pregnancy may be the starting point if we are to improve the health of the next generation.”

For practical advice on instilling positive eating habits, see the ITF’s new food calculator app, Tot It Up. The app gives practical advice based on the ITF’s award winning Portion Size Recommendations for 1-4 year olds.

See also the ITF’s Understanding Food LabelsFactsheet for healthcare professionals and the Guidance and Tips for Parents.

i. Health and Social Care Information Centre  National Child Measurement Programme – England, 2012-13 school year [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2014 Aug 5]. Available from: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/article/2021/Website-Search?productid=13778&q=national+child+measurement+programme&sort=Relevance&size=10&page=1&area=both#top

ii. Public Health England. Prevalence of obesity in females aged 16-44 years during the period 1993-2010 [Internet]. 2014. Available from: http://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/maternal_obesity/uk_trends

iii. NICE. Weight management before, during and after pregnancy [Internet]. NICE. [cited 2014 Jun 5]. Available from: http://www.nice.org.uk/

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Further Reading

  • Atul Singhal, Professor of Paediatric Nutrition and Chair of the Infant & Toddler Forum   At the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF), we are committed to giving every child the healthiest start in life. As an expert-led, not-for-profit organisation we have dedicated our work to early life nutrition, from pregnancy to pre-school, because we know that healthy eating habits established in childhood are more likely to last a lifetime.
  • Judy More, Paediatric Dietitian and Registered Nutritionist   As Christmas approaches it can be difficult to plan activities for toddlers! Between decorating, shopping and cooking it may be a challenge to find time to include fun active play with your little one. The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to help with our top tips for maintaining healthy, fun activities for your toddlers during the festive season!
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Christmas is a joyful time of year, however as a parent it can also be busy and sometimes stressful. Between planning festive gatherings, shopping for the perfect gifts, and decorating your home, thinking about the perfectly portioned festive meal for your toddler can be an added challenge. The Infant & Toddler Forum is here to help you create an easy and delicious Christmas plate that will save you time but more importantly, that your toddler will enjoy!