Nursery nutrition project focuses on portion size

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Private nurseries in one Staffordshire town have been chosen to spearhead a healthy eating project, which includes looking at whether young children are being given too much to eat as well as what they are eating.

The county council has teamed up with health chiefs to launch the Nurturing Health Award scheme, which will reward nurseries in Tamworth with either gold, silver or bronze awards, depending on which category they enter.

Councillor Carol Dean, who helped launch the scheme, said nursery staff were in an ideal position to have a positive influence on developing young children's attitudes to food and health.

'We want to address the nutritional needs of the under-fives, with the emphasis on portion sizes. Previous guidance has not focused on this, but research shows that even though toddlers are being fed important foods such as fruit and vegetables, they are often being given too much. This can trigger the loss of other important foods.'

All 18 private nurseries in Tamworth are being invited to take part and, if it is a success, the scheme will eventually be rolled out to all nurseries in Staffordshire. The award, which closely follows Government nutritional guidelines for schools, will mean that nurseries can achieve a good, very good, or excellent rating - and that will be reflected by the gold, silver or bronze awards.

The categories will be judged by Lucy Gratton, the county's food adviser, who said, 'The target is to provide toddlers with a varied, safe and balanced diet within their nurseries.

'As well as food portioning, food safety and hygiene, oral health, physical activity and family involvement can all be included within the category.'

Every nursery taking part can decide which level it wants to try for, but they will all need to achieve the bronze and silver awards before going for gold.

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