Early years practitioners key in fight against childhood obesity

Emma Horne, director of children's services UK South at Action for Children
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

One in five children start Reception overweight or obese and over 45,000 children are admitted to hospital every year with tooth decay - we all know the facts and figures but what can early years practitioners do about it?

Next month, Action for Children are hosting Munch ‘n’ Move - an event where those of us who work with children in these all important formative years can find out more about healthy eating, good nutrition and exercise – everything we want to instil in our young people at this early age. There’ll be the opportunity to find out more about how and what to feed children as well as bringing people up to date with the latest research plus fun and interesting ways to make children more active.

But why is this so important and why is it so important now? In terms of children’s physical health and cognitive ability having the right fuel they need for their body and brain is crucial, if we get this wrong the impact is massive, creating a lifetime of poor health and impacting on people’s abilities. 

As one of the main points of contact for parents children’s centres, and increasingly nurseries in areas where children’s centres aren’t available, are the place where Mum and Dad go to seek help and ask questions. When they need advice about food and healthy eating it’s important that we, as professionals, are armed with the latest nutritional advice and information. What is equally important is that we have the tools too on how to have the conversation with the parent in the right way, in a supportive way, maybe highlighting the different foods their child has tried or engaging parents in cooking sessions and providing them with recipe books.

We also need to highlight the importance of exercise rather than a sedentary lifestyle. We are seeing more and more of a culture in our young people of being behind two or three pieces of electronic equipment at any given time and even younger children have access to tablets and other equipment. Spending a lot of time sitting down and playing on them may be really good for their brain but it’s not so good for their physical health and development.

It’s a real passion of mine to make sure we all can create an environment where our children have the opportunity to try and eat different things, widen their tastes and find space to play and be active.

  • To book a place at Munch 'n' Move click here


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