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

  • Vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with more and more parents raising their children on a plant-based diet. Toddlers have high-energy needs and small stomachs, so it is important parents know how to ensure their child gets all the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with practical tips and advice for parents considering a vegetarian or vegan diet for their toddler.
  • Encouraging toddlers to keep physically active will help them to develop movement skills, stay a healthy weight and keep a healthy heart. No matter the weather, we have fun activities which will keep your toddler active and entertained this Easter!
  • Pregnant women are given lots of advice surrounding healthy eating and lifestyle, but this is often based on old or outdated information. There are so many myths and misconceptions floating around that it can be difficult for mums-to-be to tell fact from fiction. Here are our tips and guidance, so you can feel confident about having a healthy pregnancy.