Infant & Toddler Forum calls for policy makers to concentrate on preventative measures to curb obesity

The latest statistics from the National Child Measurement Programme, show that over a fifth of pre-school children were still found to be overweight or obese. And by the time they reach 11 years old this figure is over 33%. Despite the slight decrease year on year, it’s still a concern that children are becoming overweight at such a young age.

It is clear we need to act earlier and identify those at risk sooner through more regular measurement in the earliest years, particularly in areas of deprivation. Early nutrition and its implications for later health are a public health concern and everyone’s responsibility.

Judy More, paediatric dietitian and member of the Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF), said:

Education is paramount if we are to help families overcome the causes of obesity. Families with young children need support to begin and sustain healthy habits. Simple, clear advice on how to encourage healthy habits for life. For example; what foods to offer; what behaviours to encourage and how to manage snacks and mealtimes. Portion size is critical in the fight against obesity, as the amount some children eat is determined by how much is on their plate.

“If we are going to halt the obesity epidemic, we need to act now and as early as possible in the life cycle.  Research shows that mothers being overweight before conception and/or, during pregnancy increases the risk of her child becoming overweight.

“Prevention of overweight and obesity before the age of five is key to stopping the rise in childhood obesity.  A universal recommendation to measure children annually between two years and five years would identify those young children who are at risk.

“Our report Early Nutrition for Later Health: Time to Act Earlier, highlights the need to take a life course approach to health and wellbeing starting before pregnancy, and continuing throughout the very early years to improve the health of the next generation.”

 Visit the ITF website for practical resources, including “Portion Sizes for Children aged 1-4 years” and “Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers”.


Further information:

  • Pregnancy is a ‘window of opportunity for later health. Healthcare professionals join our campaign, #ActEarlier4Health
  • A copy of our report Early Nutrition for Later Health: Time to Act Earlier is available here:
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Further Reading

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  • 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.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   As social distancing policies are put in place, and schools and nurseries shut their doors indefinitely, keeping your toddlers entertained and active for hours on end during COVID-19 may seem daunting and at times virtually impossible! Parents and carers have been thrown into a cozy and chaotic ‘new normal’ and may wonder how they can meet the recommended three hours a day of physical activity for under-fives who are walking. But do not panic, the Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help make sure you have plenty of ideas to keep your toddler happy and entertained whilst encouraging physical activity.