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There is growing recognition of the importance of early years feeding in long term health,  obesity prevention and health inequalities.  So we were pleased to read the EU Council conclusions regarding actions that can be take to halt the rise in Childhood Overweight and Obesity, adopted by the Council on 15 and 16 June 2017.

The conclusions contain some useful sections on the importance of the global recommendations on exclusive and continued breastfeeding and complementary feeding the need for protection from harmful marketing and undue commercial influence.   This is needed especially now when conflicting messages are being circulated by industry funded organisations such as ESPGHAN.

 

Here are a few excerpts    

Page 5  RECOGNISES THAT   18. There are benefits in exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life to achieve optimal growth, development and health. Thereafter, to meet their evolving nutritional requirements, infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond. Breastfeeding and use of safe complementary foods should take place in accordance with WHO recommendations or national recommendations when available;   
Page 9,10,11   INVITES MEMBER STATES TO: 
1. Integrate in their national action plans, strategies or activities on nutrition and physical activity, cross-sectoral measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity, focusing not only on health promotion and disease prevention but also on those children and adolescents who are already overweight or obese; the following in particular should be included: 
  • measures to encourage early interventions in various settings through exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, introduction of nutritionally-adequate complementary foods at the age of six months while breastfeeding continues for up to two years of age or beyond or taking into account available national recommendations;
  • measures to improve access to adequate professional advice, counselling and monitoring with regard to healthy diets and health-enhancing physical activity throughout the life course, including pre-conception and pregnancy;
  • measures to provide continuous training to health professionals in contact with pregnant women, infants, children, adolescents, parents and families based on the latest available scientific advice on nutrition, health-enhancing physical activity and prevention and management of overweight and obesity;

measures to reduce the exposure of children and adolescents to marketing, advertising in any media (including on-line platforms and social media) and sponsorship, of foods high in energy, saturated fats, trans-fatty acids, sugar and salt and to monitor and report the impact of these measures;

  1. Ensure that communications and counselling activities promoted by national public authorities dealing in the field of nutrition, physical activity and health are prepared and delivered in conditions free from undue commercial influence;
  2. Increase concerted efforts to reduce the overall amount and persuasive power of food marketing communications targeted at children and adolescents which run counter to encouraging healthy lifestyles
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