We had a recent successful Q and A webinar with Dr. Julie Lanigan, specialist paediatric dietitian on healthy eating habits for the future. The first thousand days have been shown to be critical for growth and development and therefore laying the foundations for lifelong health. The child’s diet is therefore important not only for supporting growth and development at that specific point but may have a long-lasting impact on health in later life. The early years are also important to building a positive relationship with food and developing food preferences, including for vegetables and fruit.
Healthcare professionals use growth charts to establish whether growth is optimal or there is concern about a downward or upward trend for weight gain. This helps parents and healthcare profession to adjust dietary intake. However, what is excessive or too little weight gain? Dr. Julie Lanigan explained on hand of growth charts growth trajectories and also the use of BMI after the age of 2 years.
When excessive weight gain has been identified, it is important to address this early on, ideally together with a healthcare professional, as young children should be growing into their weight, rather than being placed on a diet, to ensure that height growth is not impacted. Dr. Lanigan also discussed the tricky topic of portion control and how to sensitively address this with children. The focus should always be on healthy eating without any stigmatisation around weight.
There was also a discussion around nursery (school) meals and that whilst there is UK guidance in place, the following of these guidelines are not compulsory – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/658870/Early_years_menus_part_1_guidance.pdf
We also discussed support for children with excessive weight gain and the Trimtots program was highlighted as a useful program. Other useful resources include Planet Munch Healthy Lifestyle Programme.
Listen to the whole Q and A for free here.