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New guidelines on nutrition for pre-school children published
The advice includes information on what food young children should be eating, recipe suggestions and help for fussy eaters. The publication follows a report which said that some young children were being given food better suited to adults as there were no set guidelines for pre-schools to follow.
The School Food Trust has said that the new voluntary guidelines are a nationally recognised source of information aimed at nurseries, childminders and other providers of services for pre-schoolers.
The need for clearer guidance was flagged up two years ago by an independent panel of experts on food and nutrition in the early years. The panel highlighted the fact that while many childcare providers were doing an excellent job, some had not taken on board the particular nutrition needs of very young children.
The result was that the food that some children were being given was too high in salt and sugar and too low in energy giving carbohydrate and fat. Menus also lacked fruit and vegetables, dietary fibre and essential minerals like iron and zinc.
The new guidelines advise those cooking for young children to establish good eating habits, by providing information on how to provide a varied diet for the under-fives and how to avoid too much saturated fat, sugar and salt which can contribute to weight gain, tooth decay and poor nutrient intake.
The School Food Trust said it intended to pilot the new guidelines with five local authorities, with more joining the scheme later in 2012.