Welsh Health Secretary Releases Plan to Reduce Obesity in Childcare Settings
Last week Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething outlined the plan to reduce levels of obesity. Gething said: “Childcare settings provide an ideal opportunity to encourage young children to eat well and learn about food.”
In a statement he said: “I am launching a 12 week consultation on Food and Nutrition for Child Care Settings standards and best practice guidance. This includes accompanying menus and recipes for settings. The guidance has been developed in close collaboration with representatives from the child care sector and Care Inspectorate Wales.”
The 12 week plan aims to set new standards on meals, snacks and drinks for children aged 1-12 in childcare settings. Children in full time childcare from a young age are likely to be receiving up to 90% of their food intake in these settings.
Figures from The Child Measurement Programme for 2017 show 27.4% of children aged 4-5 years old are classified as overweight in Wales. The new strategy will be part of “a 10 year approach” aiming to “build long-term sustainable change” in order to reduce obesity and increase the percentage of people at a healthy weight.
The guidance outlines ways in which childcare settings can implement these changes. These include:
- Serving a range of nutritious foods to encourage positive eating habits
- Monitoring portion sizes appropriate for the age of the children
- Limiting salt and sugar in snacks
- Providing drinks that are hydrating and beneficial to teeth
Later this year ministers will launch a consultation on the obesity strategy to test the proposals in communities across Wales. Minister for Children Huw Irranca-Davies said: “The evidence shows that eating habits adopted in early years will be taken forward into later childhood and adult life.”