Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s

Closes 14 Oct 2019

Eating a healthy diet

Infant feeding
To support families, it's important to understand the choices they make when it comes to infant feeding. In England, most mums start breastfeeding. However, after 6 to 8 weeks, only 4 in 10 are still breastfeeding their babies.  The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.

How can we do more to support mothers to breastfeed?

Currently 18% of boys and 21% of girls aged 2 to 4 years are overweight or obese.

Therefore, we need to look at what we can do in the early years to help give children the healthiest start in life.
We know that 3 in 4 children aged 4 to 18 months have energy intakes that exceed their daily requirements.  This figure increases with age following the introduction of solids. Data shows that sugar levels in some commercial baby foods and drinks can be very high.  Around 9 in 10 children aged 1.5 to 3 years old exceed recommended daily sugar intake levels.  Consuming too much sugar, and too many foods and drinks high in sugar can lead to weight gain, which in turn increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers in adulthood.  Added sugar in foods can have a negative effect on babies and young children’s health by putting them on this trajectory. 
High levels of sugar intake also increase the risk of tooth decay.  Just under a quarter of 5 year olds in England have tooth decay  and almost 9 out of 10 hospital tooth extractions among children aged 0 to 5 could have been avoided. 

How can we better support families with children aged 0 to 5 years to eat well?