Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Services
Eating nutritious food is essential for children in their early years. This helps to achieve healthy growth and development, protect teeth from decay and sets the foundations for their future health and wellbeing. Childcare settings provide an ideal opportunity to encourage young children to eat well and learn about food.
Today I am launching a 12 week consultation on Food and Nutrition for Child Care Settings standards and best practice guidance. This includes accompanying menus and recipes for settings. The guidance has been developed in close collaboration with representatives from the child care sector and Care Inspectorate Wales. However, we want to test the guidance with the sector, including childcare providers, pre-school scheme coordinators, dietitians, Inspectors and most importantly with parents to gather feedback. My officials will also be holding three workshops across Wales to ensure active collaboration. This will help to ensure we have developed a practical resource which will increase nutritional standards across Wales in these settings.
Nutrition guidelines are only one element of this Government’s work to prevent and reduce levels of obesity.
Members will be aware of our commitment through the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, to develop a strategy to this end. A substantial amount of work has already gone into developing data, exploring international evidence and practice, early stakeholder engagement to shape proposals and to develop cross-government opportunities. I will be launching a consultation later this year which will aim to test a range of ideas and proposals with communities across Wales.
The strategy will be a 10 year approach which will aim to harness and embrace the principles of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to build long-term sustainable change. There are no quick or single solutions which will drive the changes we want to see. We need a range of actions happening in parallel to halt and ultimately reduce levels of obesity and increase the proportion of people who are a healthy weight.
However, I will not be awaiting the publication of the strategy before taking action. My officials are working to develop a range of actions which will be developed and delivered in the short term. The development of nutritional guidelines for child care settings is part of this work. I will update members on the launch of the consultation in due course.