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   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.
  • Dr Gill Harris, Consultant Paediatric Clinical Psychologist   In today's digital age, it is no surprise that the amount of screen time suitable for children is a highly debated topic, with the subject regularly dominating media headlines. Children are spending more time than ever before immersed in screens from a very young age; this includes time spent watching television, playing a video game, or using an electronic device with a screen (such as a smartphone or tablet). While evidence is still limited as to the effects, it is thought that screen time affects sleep, interactive play and obesity - but it is not yet clear which type of screen time and when screen time might have the most impact. In our latest blog post, we examine the evidence and aim to provide clarity on how much is too much when it comes to screen time.
  • Lucy Upton, Specialist Paediatric Dietitian and Nutritionist   The start of a new year is a good time to consider establishing healthy feeding habits for the year ahead. Toddlers' nutritional requirements differ greatly from those of older children and adults. Rapidly growing and with small stomachs, toddlers require more nutrients in each mouthful of food.