The UK’s biggest babyfood brand has called on the government to introduce sensory food play in all early years settings, as part of a campaign to improve childhood nutrition.
The ‘Eat. Play. Love’ campaign, launched by Ella’s Kitchen, says evidence shows sensory food play can create lasting impacts on willingness to eat fruit & vegetables, which can have lifelong positive health impacts. It has been backed by academics and early years experts, including the Early Years Alliance.
Launched in Parliament yesterday (Tuesday), the campaign seeks to show the devastating impact that poor nutrition is having on the health of the nation’s children – and how a simple, low-cost intervention could play a role in alleviating this.
Government figures show almost one in three children are now beginning primary school diagnosed as overweight or obese, and only 18% of children aged five to 10 are eating the recommended five portions of fruit & veg a day,
At the same time, weight-related illnesses are costing the NHS £18bn every year – a figure that is rising all the time. The Eat. Play. Love report argues that government needs to rethink its approach to healthy eating policy and focus on prevention, especially prioritising the early years, where long-term habits are formed.
“At Ella’s Kitchen, we passionately believe that business should be a force for good, and that it is our responsibility to help improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food,” said Ella’s Kitchen CEO Mark Cuddigan.
“Evidence shows that sensory food play holds real promise to help build those healthy relationships and help little ones learn to love fruit & veg.
“That’s why we’re so proud to be working with the Early Years Alliance and Flavour School to set up pilots in nurseries in England, and to be taking sensory food play on the road; delivering free lessons, resources and training to early years settings across the UK, with particular focus on under-served communities.”