Tuesday 4th December, 2018, London – The Early Years Nutrition Partnership (EYN Partnership) welcomes Amanda Spielman’s acknowledgement today that large numbers of children are starting school already overweight or obese.
It is the EYN Partnership position that collaboration between all those involved in children’s lives is most likely to be effective in communicating healthy eating messages and ultimately reducing the burden of childhood obesity.
Annie Denny, Nutrition Development Manager at The Early Years Nutrition Partnership, commented on Amanda’s announcement saying:
“With so many children starting school overweight or obese, the need for earlier intervention is clear. No single person or group can be held entirely accountable for childhood obesity, and we believe a collaborative approach among care givers and parents can help reduce some of the problems associated with poor childhood nutrition.
Amanda Spielman explained that she believes most school meals are very nutritious and well balanced. While this might be the case in some schools, evidently the issue begins long before children start school. Nurseries and other early years settings have not had the support they desperately need to ensure their meals are nutritionally balanced and to support them in educating parents.
Early years settings can play a vital role in providing children with healthy and nutritious meals, educating them about eating healthily, role modelling positive behaviours and also supporting parents to extend these practices within the home, to ensure children receive consistent messages about food throughout the day.
A recent EYN Partnership survey showed that 79% of parents consider a nursery’s approach to nutrition when deciding upon childcare arrangements. Parents recognise its importance but require support in feeding young children well. More children are spending more time in nursery because of the Government’s 30 hours policy, and so a greater focus on early years settings is important.
A renewed focus on the early years sector could alleviate the burden on teachers of school-aged children, by ensuring children have established healthy eating behaviours for life prior to reaching the school gate.”