Obesity fight begins in nurseries

New guidance, backed by the Government, is encouraging nurseries to give children healthier meals like chickpea curry in order to stop toddlers getting overweight. The School Food Trust published new menu suggestions for ages between 1 and 5 years old, which will ensure that there are sufficient nutrients for children in daycare, with reduced salt and sugar.

Along with the new menus, the Trust has provided guides for childminders and nursery staff which will advise them on how to tackle fussy eaters, and alternatives to cake and fizzy drinks that are ubiquitous at birthday parties. Recent figures have shown that more than 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese, before they even begin primary school. The consequences of this is an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as tooth decay.

The children’s Minister, Sarah Teather, has said that in order to give children the best start in life, it is essential that healthy eating is taken seriously. To do this, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders will be given more information in the hope and expectation that this will mean that good food will be both served and eaten, and good eating habits can be formed early.

The recommended foods include traditional items like boiled eggs with toast soldiers, as well as exotic foods such as sugar snap peas and hummus. Between meals, only water or milk is to be drunk, and fruit juice can be served at mealtimes, but should be watered down to reduce the sugar concentration.

In terms of guidance, it is recommended that children are not left alone while eating, and should not watch television or play with toys while doing so. Also, food should not form a punishment or reward; children may have their desert even if they have not finished their main meal.