Vitamin D scheme wins nutrition award

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A project set up to confront the problem of Vitamin D deficiency in young children has won a national nutrition award.

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The Foodtalk vitamin D project, funded with a grant from the Feeding for Life Foundation, has won a British Nutrition Foundation award.

This year's grant scheme is open for applications from early years practitioners, health visitors, practice and community nurses, and others.

The Foodtalk project has so far provided training and resources to more than 100 staff in early years settings and children’s centres to support them to raise awareness of the importance of Vitamin D in their work with families.

Verena Trend, co-founder of Foodtalk said, ‘The Feeding for Life Promoting Best Practice grant gave us the opportunity to enter a borough and establish key and influential partnerships, create bespoke training services and increase the knowledge and awareness of staff working within early-years settings. Everyone in Croydon is talking about vitamin D. Winning this award highlights the positive impact of the project and the need for similar awareness programmes in other communities.’

The number of children lacking vitamin D has risen in recent years. In Croydon, 88 per cent of people who had their vitamin D levels tested were lacking in the vitamin, according to local NHS data.

Last month, the Government’s chief medical officer Sally Davies called for the Healthy Start scheme, which provides free vitamin supplements of A, C, and D to children whose parents are on benefits, to be extended to all children under five.

Current Government advice is that children under five should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D in the form of drops, from the age of six months.

The Foodtalk project led by a group of three dieticians based in Croydon, South London, has devised resources with comic-book style characters to convey vitamin D advice in a clear and simple way.

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In one example of how the project worked, a children’s centre put together an action plan with activities including keeping a blog, applying to become a distribution centre for Healthy Start supplements, and encouraging more outdoor play to maximise safe sun exposure.

Trainers also carry out follow-up visits after three months to ensure the action plan is underway.

The Foodtalk project was one of four schemes to be awarded grants by the Feeding for Life Foundation.

Grants of up to £5,000 are available through the Promoting Best Practice Grant Scheme for projects that will help raise awareness of the importance of vitamin D and promote take-up in children under five.

  • The deadline for 2013 applications is 2 December. More information and how to apply can be found here 

www.foodtalk.org.uk