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The Importance of Starting Well

Intervening in the very early years of life is vital to the effective prevention of obesity later on as our lifestyles are significantly influenced by early life experiences. Development of food preference, activity levels and leisure activity selection are all shown to be influenced by the type of parenting and environment a child experiences in the first years of life1.

Because early obesity can track into adulthood, efforts to prevent obesity should begin long before a child starts school – particularly as more than 23% of Reception year children in Birmingham are overweight or obese.

Evidence on risk factors for childhood obesity increasingly highlights the importance of the environment in early life2 and in response to this, Birmingham developed Startwell, an obesity prevention programme based around 7 key messages to help Early Years settings, parents and health professionals create a healthier environment for our children and families.

The Startwell programme offers a range of support to early years settings that has been designed to improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of early years professionals.

The Startwell website has been designed for early years professionals and parents to provide:

  • Separate early years professional and parents sections
  • More information about each of the 7 key messages
  • Practical ideas to put the 7 key messages into practice in your setting
  • Practical ideas for parents to put the 7 key messages into practice at home
  • Links to lots of useful resources

Sign up on the website to receive regular updates about early years healthy eating and physical activity.