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Over 80 per cent of healthcare professionals are not clear on the specific nutritional needs of the under 5s, despite seeing nutrition as a high priority in their day-to-day practice, the Feeding for Life Foundation has claimed.
The Foundation surveyed 212 healthcare professionals and 1001 parents and found that:
• 82 per cent of healthcare practitioners s surveyed consider nutrition to be either the highest or a high priority to a child’s health and development
• 81 per cent of healthcare practitioners surveyed are either not always or not really clear on the specific nutritional needs and advice of the under-5s
• 83 per cent of healthcare practitioners are not always confident speaking to parents
• 69 per cent of healthcare practitioners believe that they don’t have enough training on the benefits of vitamin supplements
• Over 50 per cent of parents currently go to healthcare professionals for advice on nutritional or feeding issues
• 69 per cent of parents would like more information on how to improve their child’s nutritional intake
The Feeding for Life Foundation says the gap in nutrition knowledge has recently been highlighted by the growing issue of vitamin D deficiency in the UK. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey showed that toddlers are only achieving 27 per cent of their recommended intake of vitamin D through their diet.
The healthcare professionals surveyed recognised they needed more support to help improve vitamin D levels in the under-5s. 69 per cent agreed that they didn’t have enough training on the benefits of vitamin supplements and said there is a lack of practical guidance on how to implement the Department of Health’s recommendations.
The Feeding for Life Foundation has launched a free eLearning Early-Years Nutrition Course (EYNC), to help support nutrition knowledge for health care professionals. It says the course is designed to build confidence and competence in nutrition amongst health care providers and early years practitioners.
Julie Lanigan, specialist dietitian and Feeding for Life Foundation expert group member said: "HCPs and practitioners working in the early-years have acknowledged the need for greater training and education that will improve nutrition know-how and support their conversations with parents.”
To read about the work that day nurseries do planning balanced and nutritious meals for the under-fives, see this feature: www.daynurseries.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1558043/nutricious-and-delicious-the-importance-of-healthy-day-nurseries-meals