Cancer prevention charity recruits parents for healthy snacking initiative

3 August 2015

A leading cancer prevention charity wants to work with parents in Bracknell Forest to install healthy snacking habits in pre-school kids.

Between now and the end of August, parents can sign up to a free, four-week ‘Smart Snacking’ programme to help keep their children happy and healthy at snack time, involving fun food games, healthy recipes and the chance to share tips and ideas with other parents on social media, where nutritionists will also be available to answer questions. 

The initiative is by the Great Grub Club, part of the World Cancer Research Fund, the leading authority on cancer prevention research related to diet, weight and physical activity.

The aim is to engage parents with fun and easy ways to get their 3-5 year-olds loving healthy snacking. Helping children develop healthy habits early on could reduce their risk of developing cancer later in life.

The Great Grub Club developed the initiative after feedback from parents in Bracknell Forest who said that when it comes to healthy snacking, they could do with a helping hand.

Parents who sign up will get four weeks of tips delivered straight to their email inbox containing snack swap ideas, quick, affordable and healthy recipes and fun activities to try with their children. In addition, parents will receive a free pack, including a booklet full of advice and recipes, plus a rewards wallchart and sticker sheet; and access to a Facebook group for local parents.

Over a fifth (22.5%) of children in England are already overweight or obese by the time they start primary school (4-5 year-olds).

Snack foods are known to be a major contributor to dietary problems and preschool children need nutritious snacks between meals for normal growth and development as snacks can help manage hunger and boost energy.

Research shows that early interventions to encourage healthy eating at a young age are important and may have a lasting effect on dietary habits into adulthood, which could help reduce their risk of developing cancer, as well as other diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

About a third of the most common cancer cases are preventable through a healthy diet, weight management and physical activity.

Amanda McLean, Director of World Cancer Research Fund UK, said: ‘It’s well known that getting young children to eat healthy foods is not always easy. But the earlier we start to embed healthy food choices, the greater the potential impact for children’s long-term health. It’s never too early to make healthy choices.

‘To influence the eating habits of preschool children it’s essential to get parents involved, especially mothers who often are the gatekeepers of their family’s diet. We want to work with parents to see what tips and tricks work for them in encouraging their kids to eat healthily.’

Bracknell Forest mum-of-two Becky Findlay said: ‘I think it’s a great idea and I would definitely use the resource, especially the recipes. And I know that my children would enjoy getting involved in the cooking and the activities.’

The month-long programme starts on 1 September and parents keen to get involved can sign up here.