Prevention intervention: The Infant & Toddler Forum gives power to prevention in 2020 campaign

Expert-led not-for-profit organisation, the Infant & Toddler Forum CIC (ITF), today announces its 2020 campaign focus of making prevention ACTIONABLE for both parents, parents-to-be and healthcare professionals.

The ITF’s rallying cry for individuals in the early years sphere to embrace preventative action is borne out of the need for a new approach to halt the tidal wave of ill health due to obesity and obesity related illnesses.

We know that today younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer[1], with 4 in 10 children leaving primary school predicted to be overweight or obese by 2024[2]. The issue is compounded in areas of social deprivation and is inextricably linked to increased risk of dying prematurely[3] from cancer, diabetes, heart attacks and strokes[4].

We believe that the damage is done long before a child leaves primary school and that healthy habits need to be instilled as early as during pregnancy. Our work over the past 16 years has shown us the importance of the ‘early window of opportunity’ and in 2020 we are reasserting our commitment to supporting the team on the frontline – parents / carers, parents-to-be, providers and healthcare professionals – who are responsible for fostering healthy habits – nutrition & behavior – among infants in their formative years.

As part of our 2020 commitment to making prevention actionable, the ITF will:

  • Help to embed prevention at the earliest stage in life through raising awareness about responsive feeding; the very foundation for the development of healthy eating behaviour and optimal skills for self-regulation and self-control of food early on in life
  • Launch a new simple and practical menu planning resource to support parents planning nutritious meals for their toddler(s), based on evidence-based portion size guidance. Initial results of a four-week pilot saw parents report a 40% increase in healthier choices and 30% reduction in excessive portion sizes, suggesting the effectiveness of the tool in reducing overeating
  • Continue to produce evidence-based resources and behavioral change programmes which are simple and practical for parents and providers to implement

Professor Atul Singhal, Professor of Paediatric Nutrition at the UCL Institute of Child Health, and Chair of the ITF comments: “From looking at the bleak picture painted by obesity related statistics, it’s clear we need to make prevention actionable for individuals in the early years at the earliest possible stage. Prevention should be at the centre of health policy and children [early life] should be at the centre of prevention. We know that the habits we learn early can stay with us for life. This is particularly true with eating habits; therefore, we need to redefine prevention in the fight against obesity and ill health as establishing healthy habits that last a lifetime”.

If you share our mission and are interested in supporting our work, or learning more about our 2020 campaign focus, please contact:

[1] Johnson W, Li L, Kuh D, Hardy R (2015) How Has the Age-Related Process of Overweight or Obesity Development Changed over Time? Coordinated Analyses of Individual Participant Data from Five United Kingdom Birth Cohorts. PLoS Med 12(5)


[3] Pischon, M.D et al. (2008) General and Abdominal Adiposity and Risk of Death in Europe. The New England Journal of Medicine. 359:2105-2120

[4] NHS –



Notes to Editors:

  • The ITF is an expert-led not-for-profit organisation, established over sixteen years ago and born out of the need to support parents, parents-to-be and professionals in early years nutrition. Our members include experts from paediatrics, neonatology, health visiting, dietetics, child psychology, midwifery and obstetrics
  • For more information, visit the ITF website and sign up for monthly email bulletins with news and information about the Forum
  • If you are interested in supporting our work, please contact: / 020 8971 0022
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Further Reading

  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century, with recent NHS figures revealing that one child under five is admitted to hospital because of obesity every week. The coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdown has challenged already difficult circumstances and during this time many children were consuming more higher fat and/or sugar snacks, spending longer in front of screens and missing out on regular activity including physical education classes.
  • 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.