The Infant and Toddler Forum Welcomes Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Obesity Report and Highlights the Critical Early Years Window of Opportunity

Today a report, published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), called for collective action and responsibility to tackle the public health threat of obesity within the UK. The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) welcomes this report and in addition calls for more emphasis on the early years; arguably the most important for long term health.

Overweight and obesity are clearly a major public health issue. Half of British children aged two to three are now overweight or obese1. Given most excess weight is gained by the age of five in 91 per cent of girls and 70 per cent of boys2, it’s vital to get feeding right in the pre-school years.
The report recommends more education and training for practitioners, increasing support for new parents, a ban on junk food advertising, a sugary drink tax, a unified system for food labeling, promotion of active travel and protection of green spaces.

Dr Atul Singhal, Chair of the Infant & Toddler Forum, said: “Britain is facing an entirely preventable epidemic of obesity and diet-related ill-health, with an entire generation at risk of dying prematurely. Health agendas need to focus on supporting practitioners, parents and carers with effective resources to help change behaviour. Obesity is multifactorial and the ITF encourage a holistic approach, promoting positive attitudes to food and feeding from an early age. We will be working throughout 2013, to raise awareness of the importance of the early years in achieving optimum long-term health through delivering simple, consistent, practical guidance for all.”

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Notes to editors

The Infant & Toddler Forum (ITF) is an independent group of experts in child health, nutrition and development. The Forum was formed to provide health and childcare professionals with educational resources that translate the evidence base into clear health messages for parents, and to facilitate interaction, learning and the sharing of best practice between healthcare professionals. For over seven years the Forum and its partners have strived to raise awareness and promote positive change in the field of toddler nutrition and feeding behaviour.

In 2010 the ITF launched its Ten Steps for Healthy Toddlers a practical, evidence based, easy-to-follow guide on what behaviour to encourage, and how best to manage mealtimes.

In 2011 the ITF published its Portion Sizes Factsheet and online tables for parents and carers, providing recommended evidence based guidance in the form of ranges of foods from the five food groups to offer 1-4 year olds.

The Infant & Toddler Forum is supported by an educational grant from Danone Baby Nutrition. All resources produced by the Forum represent the independent views of the Forum with whom copyright rests.

1. BatesB, LennoxA, SwanG. National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Headline results from Years 1 and 2 combined) of the Rolling Programme (2008/2009 – 2009/2010): London: HMSO, 2010

2. Gardner DS, Hosking J, Metcalf BS, Jeffery AN, Voss LD, Wilkin TJ. Contribution of early weight gain to childhood overweight and metabolic health: a longitudinal study (EarlyBird 36). Pediatrics. 2009; 123: e67-73.

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Further Reading

  • By Melanie Pilcher and Dr. Gillian Harris Establishing bedtime routines for toddlers and young children
  • By Dr. Gillian Harris, Honorary Senior Lecturer in Applied Developmental Psychology at the University of Birmingham and ITF member Most parents will struggle at some point to get their toddlers to eat certain foods. Is toddler food refusal a sign of an eating disorder. or is it merely a phase? In the run up to Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Gill Harris provides practical advice to help parents tackle fussy eating in toddlers.  
  • By Lucy Upton, on behalf of the Infant and Toddler Forum On behalf of the members of the Infant and Toddler Forum, I am proud to announce the launch of a new infant feeding educational programme, which includes practical resources for frontline healthcare professionals (HCPs) working with parents and infants.