To mark the UK’s first ever National Childhood Nutrition Day (9 June), Dr Michael Barnish, Head of Genetics & Nutrition at REVIV Global, explains how nutritional deficiency can affect children’s growth and development or lead to disease.
“Children are growing and developing at a very fast rate, much faster than adults. To keep up with this, it is essential for children to meet their nutritional demands. Examples of nutrients include vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids,” he says.
“If children go a long time without adequate nutrition, or if they are deficient in a certain nutrient, then this can affect their growth and development or lead to disease. For example, a prolonged vitamin D deficiency can lead to Rickets, a disease where the bones do not form adequately.”
National Childhood Nutrition Day UK has been launched by health and nutrition charity Vitamin Angels UK to raise awareness of and tackle food insecurity, of which 1 in 4 children in the UK are at risk of*.
In Britain, Vitamin Angels UK works in partnership with the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) and currently delivers free weekly nutrient-dense supplementary foods to six nurseries in England, containing fruits, vegetables and protein-rich foods.
In January, REVIV Global announced a new partnership with Vitamin Angels Global by donating $10 from every super B vitamin injection purchased. The money will go towards the Vitamin Angels nutrition intervention programmes operating in over 65 countries. Every $10 will give 40 expectant mothers or children access to essential vitamins and minerals. REVIV’s UK sales support a donation directly to Vitamin Angels UK.
Dr Barnish adds: “Some multi-generational studies on the effects of famine also suggest that poor nutritional intakes in childhood could impact their future health, and even the health of their children to come. It is therefore such a crucial stage to ensure good levels of nutrition are achieved during this time.”
Over 400 children from low-income families are benefiting from the Vitamin Angels UK and NDNA partnership to help improve child diet quality. The nurseries are in Manchester, Grimsby, Darlington, Scunthorpe, Wolverhampton and Leominster.
Dr Kristen Hurley, senior vice president for nutrition at Vitamin Angels UK, says: “With 1 in 4 children in the UK at risk of food insecurity, we’re facing a crisis and we need to act now. As cited by the British Medical Journal, there are growing concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated nutritional problems associated with food insecurity including micronutrient deficiencies. Last year’s National Food Strategy Review indicated that children ate fewer fruits and vegetables during lockdown – and that this effect was heightened among children living in low-income households.
“By the end of 2021 we aim to broaden the reach of our supplementary food program to more nurseries in the UK.”
Find out more about National Childhood Nutrition Day at https://vitaminangels.org.uk/childhood-nutrition-day
*1 in 4 children live in poverty in the UK and are therefore at risk of food insecurity – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/households-below-average-income-hbai–2