How is the government encouraging healthy eating through the implementation of taxes?

How is the government encouraging healthy eating through the implementation of taxes?

It is a common misconception that healthy eating is expensive. However, with increasing prices on unhealthy food we are beginning to see government intervention to hold companies accountable for the foods they produce. In this article, we delve deeper into how the implementation of taxes is encouraging the nation to opt for healthier food choices.

The World Health Organisation

Healthy eating has been a problem for much of the world for a number of years, but with the recent implementation of government taxes and a plethora of reports being released on the negative impacts of unhealthy food, there have been many organisations calling for change. The World Health Organisation has been at the forefront of the fight to tackle obesity for a number of years and has helped to implement taxes in Denmark on saturated fats, sugar-sweetened soft drinks and an increase in tax on sweets, ice-cream and chocolate of 25% as voted on by the European Commission.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy

This was adopted by the UK in the fight against obesity as a Levy was then implemented. This tax involved going rates for companies at 24p per litre of drink with more than 8 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres. In addition to this, there is also an 18p tariff per litre of drink that contains between 5-8 grams of sugar per 100g. This was a controversial move by the UK government as part of their Soft Drinks Industry Levy to encourage the production of healthier drinks on the market.

When asked about the results of the Levy the Public Health Minister at the time Steve Brine MP had this to say:

“The progress made so far on our obesity plan is promising – but with one in three children still leaving primary school overweight or obese, we have not ruled out doing more in the future.”

This is then indicated by the increased focus on the growing obesity problem in the UK and helping to encourage healthy eating in children as well as a healthier lifestyle for adults.

The Royal Society for Public Health

Since the implementation of this Sugar Tax, the Royal Society For Public Health has been calling for better regulations surrounding the placement of fast food establishment on the route home from schools. With recent studies showing an 80% backing from the public to remove fast food advertisements from outside the school gates as well as a ban placed on unhealthy fast food outlets from within a 5-minute walk of school gates in order to tackle the growing issue of childhood obesity. Though these changes are just being talked about at this time, it could be a perfect opportunity for improving your diet on a budget as this will encourage healthier eating for the family on the route home from school.

The RSPH is also working to encourage children and parents to work together for a healthier lifestyle. With recommendations to the Department Of Transport surrounding the cost of zebra crossings as well as recommendations surrounding a school streets scheme to help transform the roads outside of schools to encourage children to walk to and from school. This is all part of the bigger picture to tackle obesity in children as well as adults as part of the Change4life program.

The Sugar Tax

The sugar tax was part of a much larger plan to achieve a reduction of 20% by 2020 under the Sugar Reduction and Wider Reformulation. This plan particularly applies to the confectionery industry for chocolate and other sweets that are high in sugar content. Though this Sugar Tax has been implemented, it is important to note that sugary soft drinks are not covered by the sugar reduction program as they are instead covered by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy.

With this in mind, there is reason to suggest that the British government will continue to implement changes that can contribute to a healthier lifestyle for the UK as a whole. Whether this will be in the form of a government scheme similar to those listed above, or a new law passed in parliament, only time will tell as to how the British Government will tackle this growing problem.


A good story can be taken anywhere!

A good story can be taken anywhere!

Yay summer is here at last and who doesn’t want to take full advantage of those long warm summer days to be outside. Children love all that fresh air but sometimes it’s just too hot to be running around so what better way of helping them to cool...
Love for outside play groups builds

Love for outside play groups builds

The advantages of outside play are well documented and in North Essex, there has been a significant rise in the number of outdoor groups for toddlers.

These groups have helped support parents and their children to spend more time outside doing activities like bug hunts, roasting marshmallows and jumping in muddy puddles.

Gavin and Christina Parmenter, parents of three-year-old Archie and one-year-old Alice, run BWild Adventures in Little Oakley.

Christina said to Harwich and Manningtree Standard: “Our little venture was born just over two years ago after we moved to the area from Chelmsford.

“Gavin has worked in the outdoors as an instructor for many years, so when I had to give up my career in print to raise our children, it seemed only natural to start something that we could do as a family.

“When we first set out, our focus was on survival, bushcraft courses and family adventures.

“We soon realised that there was a lack of outdoor activities for children of all ages locally, aside from playgrounds and a few local attractions.

“With all the beautiful countryside and wooded areas around us, we knew that we should be helping children reconnect with the outdoors using Gavin’s knowledge and background, and my creativity and love for nature.”

The couple run their business from Hamford View Tearooms, and it’s centred around the ethos of ‘Forest Schools’.

The outside play encourages risky play, dirt and bug searching, with various sessions run for under 5s during term time, which is extended to under 9s during holidays.

“Making this nature connection so young is key to their development both at pre-school and school, and actually, lessons learnt now can stay with them for a lifetime,” added Christina.

“When children are exposed to play like this regularly, especially from such a young age, it changes the way that they play and think: they are more confident, inquisitive; questions are more detailed and probing; they empathise with insects and animals by learning about where they live and what they eat.

“Their natural curiosity is just awakened.”

Gavin and Christina recently launched an after-school club in Great Oakley and special, extra-adventurous sessions at Thorrington scout camp, monthly.

Story by: Harwich and Manningtree Standard

We’re going on a bear hunt…literally!

We’re going on a bear hunt…literally!

We all enjoy reading lovely books like The Gruffalo or Rosie’s Walk with our young children, but a great way to really get the children engrossed is to dramatise these stories by actually walking with the mouse through the wood or strolling with Rosie around the farmyard.

We could call this approach story walks or tale trails! Drama and creatively enacting tales are old forms of storytelling which have engaged both adults and children alike over the ages. Children have the opportunity to be creative and use their imagination, extend their vocabulary and develop their social skills whilst re-enacting a familiar story.  Telling stories on the move is also a lot of fun, children become totally engrossed and it can happen inside or outside, whatever the weather!

Depending on the age and stage of development of the children in your care, you may want to prepare the props for the story walk in advance.  However, you can have a lot of fun setting up the story props with the children too.  For example, when I was childminding, we had been reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and I suggested we went on our very own bear hunt.  We talked through the different terrain that the children in the story visit and thought about how we could recreate the story for ourselves.  On this occasion, we stuck to the order and specifics of the book as a frame but the more familiar children become with this method of storytelling, the more creative you can all become; inventing your own additions to stories or even making up your own.

The children decided that we would swish and swash through the grass outside (which was probably taller than it should have been, having not been cut recently) to begin our bear hunt.  We then thought about what we could use as the river – we didn’t have a paddling pool or real stream nearby, but I remembered that I had a blue blanket and showed it to the children.  Thankfully, they thought it would make a perfect river!  They then decided to pour some water on the patch of muddy grass under the swing to make the squelchy mud and found that we could ‘stumble trip’ under the apple tree for the dark forest.  Our snowstorm was a white sheet pegged on the washing line and the dark cave was a small play tent.  Unbeknown to the children, I had hidden a large teddy bear in the tent.  So we set off on our bear hunt together, visiting the various places in the story, and when we started tiptoeing into the cave, the children all shrieked with joy when they discovered our very own bear!  We then had to run back through all the places we’d visited and run into the house… we had a large throw on the sofa which was perfect for us to hide under as we escaped from the bear, exhausted but exhilarated from our adventure!

You can dramatise any story with a few basic props in hand, although some stories perfectly lend themselves to this sort of story walk, for example:

  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
  • Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
  • Whatever next? by Jill Murphy
  • Emma Jane’s Aeroplane by Katie Haworth & Daniel Rieley
  • Captain Duck by Jez Alborough
  • Up, Up, Up by Susan Reed
  • Walking through the Jungle by Julie Lacome

Traditional tales like The Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and the Three Bears are also great stories to act out with young children.  This type of storytelling is not static – where children act out a scene on a stage – but active, where children physically move from scene to scene through the setting.  The addition of movement encourages attention and listening skills to keep the children engaged but also supports their physical development.

Story walks are simple and really good fun – so grab your wellies and go on a bear hunt today!

About the author

Tamsin GTamsin Grimmer photo2rimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.

Tamsin has written two books – Observing and Developing Schematic Behaviour in Young Children and School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @tamsingrimmer, her Facebook pagewebsite or email info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk


What’s love got to do with it?

What’s love got to do with it?

When I tell people that I’m halfway through a research project for my master’s degree about the importance of love in early childhood, it raises a few eyebrows.  “Love?”, they ask, “What’s love got to do with it?”

In the past few years, more and more articles and books are considering love within the context of early childhood, however, love is not a term that tends to be used within our settings. In fact, love is not even mentioned within the Early Years Foundation Stage. This was not always the case. When the EYFS was first introduced back in 2008, there were a couple of references to loving relationships, for example, the principle relating to positive relationships read, “Children learn to be strong and independent from a base of loving and secure relationships with parents and/or a key person” (DfCSF, 2008, p. 5). The wording was shortened during the revisions to the EYFS and the word ‘loving’ removed. However, within the non-statutory Development Matters document, the positive relationships are still defined as being, ‘warm and loving’.

In practice, love is rarely discussed and most authors will use alternative words such as, ‘care’, ‘attachment’, or ‘warmth’ which might infer love but do not specifically mention it. Using the term ‘love’ can be problematic within an early years context as it can hold connotations with intimacy or sexual desire. Therefore the word ‘love’ might appear to be ‘out of bounds’, ignored or even prohibited in practice. In an interview by Peter Elfer and Jules Page, one practitioner referred to this stating, “Oh you do love them all…. but you would never use that word” (2015, p.1773). I have also come across this attitude with some settings having ‘no-touch’ policies with children, or practitioners feeling worried about being seen to cuddle or hug a child. It is really sad that early years practitioners can feel this way and I believe such attitudes do children a disservice, as being loved and engaging in warm, close relationships is part of what makes us human. When reflecting on my own practice, I can honestly say that I have loved the children in my care and I hope that the various childcare practitioners my own children have encountered would have felt the same about them.

There is a lot of research which backs up the idea that children need to feel loved in order to develop secure relationships of their own. You might remember that Maslow includes ‘to love and be loved’ in his hierarchy of basic human needs and Sue Gerhardt in her excellent book, Why love matters, argues that within the first year of a child’s life, and beyond, affection has a huge impact on brain development and shapes attitudes and dispositions for life.

Despite the obvious advantages of developing a loving pedagogy, some practitioners have expressed concerns about acting in loving ways, citing child protection as a barrier. Keeping children safe is, and should be, our highest priority, however, John Byrne insists that discussion around child protection issues should complement our practice not inhibit it and he warns against, ‘a new form of abuse’ as caregivers overlook children’s ‘emotional needs for love and intimacy’ (2016, p.153). Early years practitioners must not worry that their loving actions will be misinterpreted and one way to help with this is to describe and define professional love within our setting’s policies.

Jules Page has developed the Professional Love in Early Years Settings (PLEYS) research project and toolkit aimed at practitioners considering what professional love can mean within an early years context. Using the term ‘professional’ can help to separate it from the notion of parental love and sounds more formal and less intimate. It helps to frame a loving pedagogy within a professional context, hopefully giving permission for professionals to love the children in their care.

We can demonstrate our love for the children in our care by:

  • Spending quality time with them
  • Keeping children’s best interests at heart and holding them in mind
  • Showing a genuine interest in their lives
  • Using positive touch in interactions with children e.g. offering a child a hug or a high 5 or allowing a younger child to sit on our lap during a story
  • Building positive relationships and secure attachments with children
  • Using positive, affirming and encouraging language e.g. labelled praise and words that build self-esteem
  • Creating cosy corners for children to cuddle up with us and listen to a story
  • Building nurture times into our routine when children can re-fuel emotionally
  • Engage in genuine consultation with children about issues that affect them, value their ideas and, whenever possible, act upon them
  • Create resources or plan activities with specific children in mind, reminding them they are special
  • Doing something to help the children or an act of service for the children e.g. helping them to find their shoes, or finding the specific shaped block they have been searching for
  • Giving children appropriate ‘gifts’ e.g. a daisy or special stone in the outside area
  • Helping children to understand the concept of love, talking about people who love them and how to act in loving and caring ways
  • Role modelling acting in loving and caring ways ourselves
  • Sharing picture books specifically about love and special relationships
  • If appropriate, allowing children to choose their own key person (the person that they gravitate towards)
  • Ensuring that professional love or a loving pedagogy is defined and described within our setting’s policies.

I believe that love needs to be redefined within early childhood education to make the term more readily used and accepted. By kind and caring actions, holding children in mind and wanting the best for those in their care, early years practitioners are already demonstrating love on a daily basis. This pedagogy of love will demonstrate love’s power in these children’s lives and help them to grow into loving citizens of the future.

That’s what love has to do with it!


About the author

Tamsin GTamsin Grimmer photo2rimmer is an experienced early years consultant and trainer and parent who is passionate about young children’s learning and development. She believes that all children deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and committed to improving on their current best. Tamsin particularly enjoys planning and delivering training and supporting early years practitioners and teachers to improve outcomes for young children.

Tamsin has written two books – Observing and Developing Schematic Behaviour in Young Children and School Readiness and the Characteristics of Effective Learning.

You can contact Tamsin via Twitter @tamsingrimmer, her Facebook pagewebsite or email info@tamsingrimmer.co.uk

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