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

  • 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.
  • 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.