The Department of Health has advised a drastic reduction in treat sizes in the new healthy eating guidelines for young children.
On Thursday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman and Minister of State for Public Health and Wellbeing Frank Feighan attended the launch of the first every National Healthy Eating Guidelines for children aged between one and four.
Aimed at helping the parents and carers of young children to establish good eating habits from an early age, the new guidelines were developed by nutrition experts in Ireland and feature a newly-designed food pyramid for children as well as extensive advice on portion size and treat allowances.
One of the nine key messages included in the guidelines outlines the recommended intake of treat foods for young children, with the Department of Health saying: ‘Foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt can be linked to being overweight in childhood.
‘If you decide to give your child these foods offer them in TINY amounts and only once a week.’
The guidelines define a tiny amount as one square of chocolate, three crisps, half a plain biscuit or three soft sweets.
The parents and carers of young children are also advised to give those aged between one and four three small meals and between two and three snacks per day.
The guidelines emphasise the importance of milk as a key food in the diets of young children, and stress the need to ensure adequate intakes of iron and Vitamin D.
Speaking at Thursday’s launch, Mr Donnelly stated: ‘We all want to give our children the very best start and helping them to establish a healthy relationship with food is something that will benefit them for their entire lives.
Are you struggling with what your pre-schoolers eat?
The new children’s food pyramid for 1 to 4 year olds will help you decide what your child should be eating and how much.
Launching at 11am this morning.
— HealthyIreland (@HealthyIreland) October 1, 2020
‘These guidelines will help parents and carers to set their children up for a healthier life and are another step to help make the healthy choice the easier choice for everyone. As Minister for Health, I’m very glad this progress has been made for the future health of our nation’s children.’
Green Party TD Roderic O’Gorman stated: ‘The early establishment and fostering of good nutritional habits in a nurturing, caring society will provide an excellent foundation for the health of our nation’s children.
‘These guidelines deliver on a key action in the First Five Whole of Government strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families which aims to better their lives and I am confident that these will be of great assistance to parents and those working with children, feeding them and helping with their growth and development on a daily basis.’
Further information about the new healthy eating guidelines for children aged between one and four can be found at gov.ie/healthyireland.