Children's health and food

A review of Early Years nutrition policy and practice

With Bremner Consulting

Key partnership information

What we’re doing together

We’re working with Bremner Consulting on a project to identify and understand the priorities for early years nutrition policy and practice development.  

Nutrition in early years (0 – 5 years) is critical to a child’s immediate and long-term health. Access to a healthy diet, containing a full range of nutrients, is essential to support physical and cognitive growth. This phase is also when children’s food preferences and habits are first established and can set the stage for healthy behaviours throughout their lives.  

We know that what we eat is shaped by where we live, and that not all children have the opportunity of a healthy diet, particularly those living in low-income neighbourhoods. By the time children start primary school, more than 1 in 5 are an unhealthy weight. Yet there are considerable gaps in national food policies for the early years.  

The recent Government Food Strategy (published 13th June 2022) overlooks the food and nutrition needs of infants and pays little attention to those of young children. Similarly, the current sugar reduction programme does not include commercially produced baby and toddler food and the new regulations on baby food are overdue. And alarmingly, there are currently no mandatory food guidelines for nurseries.  

There are numerous organisations and individuals in the public, private and voluntary and community sectors contributing to the complex landscape of early years nutrition. Through this project, we will engage with these stakeholders to identify the policy and practice changes needed to shape food environments in the home and early years settings where babies and children live, learn and play.   

There will be an opportunity to contribute to the project through a call for evidence later in the year. 

Aims of the partnership

Through this project we hope to build an understanding of:  

  • Who the key decision makers and contributors are and their needs and aspirations for early years nutrition  
  • Existing barriers to, and opportunities for, achieving good nutrition in the early years for all children  
  • Priorities for policy and practice development  
  • The opportunities and challenges for collaborative action to achieve policy and practice change. 

Connection to our strategy

Our aim is for families living on low incomes with babies and young children (pre-school age) to have access to affordable, nutritious food in the places they live and spend their time. Homes and early years settings are where most children are first exposed to different foods. These are an important space for establishing food preferences and habits and have a long-lasting impact on a child’s health.  

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