Our children aren’t getting proper food at nurseries – campaign

Would you believe 1 in 5 children start school already overweight? (1 in 10 are obese) Apparently too many parents rarely cook, toddlers are eating fast food and nurseries are not dishing up the correct nutritious meals.

Our children are among the fattest in Europe. Studies show that children who start school obese are unlikely to lose the excess

Too much sugar and salt in young children's diets
Too much sugar and salt in young children's diets

weight – and there are no regulations on what nurseries should feed our children (other than in Scotland).

In the daily rush to school and work it’s tempting to cut corners with pre-packed high fat, high sugar foods. But we need to be cautious of the growing market of ready meals and foods aimed at children. Under 5s generally eat twice as much sugaras they need and 40% have decay in their baby teeth.

This week the BBC’s Panorama programme investigated this issue and The Soil Association and Organix has begun a campaign to improve the standard of food nurseries feed to pre-school children. The two food groups have begun a petition calling for training and standards to be raised in order to support children’s nurseries. It’s not that all nurseries are bad, but without detailed guidelines it’s easy for child-carers to confuse the advice given to adults with what a child needs.Do you know how much zinc or oily fish under 5s should have for example?

As parents we have to get past the myth that children only like sweet snacks. Instead, planning meals and snacktimes which are nutritious and can be quickly prepared each day may be far more beneficial to our children’s health than we currently realise. The website Netmums offers useful info on meal planning and toddler’s recipes; and you can download nutrition guides forcarers from the NHS and The Caroline Walker Trust. There are also a variety of books which give information on nutrition through cooking aimed at children.

In the real world we know that we still need the convenience of a meal you can just grab from the cupboard occasionally, for those times I really value Ella’s Kitchen foods which are specifically designed for toddlers. Ella’s Dad made the food himself because he was concerned about rising obesity levels and children’s diet and he makes sure all the food is natural with nothing added.