Toddlers in juice ban as nurseries tackle obesity

Fruit juice will be banned as a routine drink for children in nurseries under new guidelines. Recommended menus will aim to cut the sugar consumption of toddlers in the battle against obesity.

About 9% of children are obese by the time they start primary school. The guidelines are expected to recommend that only water and milk are offered at meals. This reflects a World Health Organisation report last year, Ending Childhood Obesity, which said carers should avoid giving children juice.

The Children’s Food Trust, a charity that drew up the national food standards in schools, was commissioned by Public Health England to produce the nursery menus. Its advice until now has been to provide juice at some meals, diluted with water. Children aged 4 to 10 get about 15% of their daily calories from sugar compared with the official recommendation of no more than 5%. The campaign group Action on Sugar has warned that sugary drinks, including juices, are one of the main contributors to excess sugar consumption.

A report published in the journal BMJ Open last year said juice should no longer count as one of the government’s recommended “five-a-day” helpings of fruit and vegetables.

There are concerns about the support available to schools after the Children’s Food Trust announced last month that it was closing because of a lack of funds.

The trust was a quango but became a charity in 2007. It runs the country’s biggest cooking club for children, Let’s Get Cooking, which faces an uncertain future.

Adam Starkey, trust chairman, said: “We still face a crisis in child health and now, more than ever, work in this area is vital.”