Wales launches draft guidance for healthy eating in early years settings

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New guidance to support healthy food and drink provision in childcare settings has been put out for consultation in Wales.

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The guidelines aim to help early years settings to provide healthy and nutritious food and the right portion size for children of different ages

The Welsh Government has unveiled new guidance on food and nutrition as part of a range of initiatives to prevent obesity in Wales.

The guidance, which will be subject to a 12-week consultation, has been announced today (Wednesday) by health secretary Vaughan Gething and minister for children Huw Irranca-Davies.

The new standards apply to the provision of meals, snacks and drinks and include accompanying menus and recipes. They are aimed at settings caring for children aged between one and 12, but also aim to increase parental awareness of what settings can offer children.

The guidance aims to allow childcare settings to:

  • serve a range of tasty, nutritious meals to help develop good eating habits
  • ensure portion sizes are appropriate for the age of the children
  • serve snacks that are nutritious, with little or no sugar and salt
  • provide healthy drinks that are hydrating and protective to teeth, such as milk and water

The Child Measurement Programme for 2017 showed that over a quarter of Welsh children (27.4 per cent) aged between four and five are classified as overweight or obese.

Mr Gething said, ‘Eating nutritious food is essential for children in their early years. This helps to achieve healthy growth and development, protect teeth from decay and sets the foundations for their future health and wellbeing.

‘Nutrition guidelines are only one element of this Government’s work to prevent and reduce levels of obesity. Through the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, we are developing a 10-year strategy to put in place the building blocks that will help us halt and ultimately reduce levels of obesity and increase the proportion of people who are a healthy weight.’

Ministers will launch a consultation on the obesity strategy later this year.

Mr Irranca-Davies said, ‘Our vision is for children from all backgrounds to have the best start in life.

‘The early years can have a positive influence on food preferences as a toddler begins to have a decisive say in the foods they choose to eat. The evidence shows that eating habits adopted in early years will be taken forward into later childhood and adult life.

‘Childcare settings provide an ideal opportunity to encourage young children to eat well and learn about food.’

  • Download the guidance here
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