The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today launched the ‘Healthy Early Years London’ programme, which aims to give the capital’s under-fives the best possible start in life.
The programme helps children and families learn about healthy eating, exercise and social and emotional development, and forms a key part of the Mayor’s new Health Inequalities Strategy – designed to make London a healthier and fairer city by keeping people well and tackling conditions that affect health.
Londoners currently face serious inequalities in health depending on their incomes and where they live, and this can begin at a very young age. In Tower Hamlets, for example, babies are more than two-and-a-half times more likely to be born at a low birth weight than those in Richmond upon Thames, while across London the development of five-year-olds on free school meals is almost three months behind their peers.
Across England, obesity in reception-age children in the most deprived areas is more than double that of those living in the wealthiest areas, while in London almost one in five reception-age children are overweight or obese, and one in four five-year-olds have tooth decay.
The Mayor is committed to reducing these inequalities and, through his new awards programme, nurseries, children’s centres, playgroups and childminders will be given support to help children and their parents learn about the importance of healthy eating and exercise, as well as a range of social and emotional development.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Our capital faces huge health inequalities and it’s shocking that, even from the youngest of ages, children’s health suffers because of the circumstances into which they are born. We know that giving children the best start in life is the most effective way to address health inequalities in the longer term, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that every London child can enjoy the best possible start to life. That’s why through my Healthy Early Years London programme we’re looking at every aspect of a child’s life so that we can help them grow and develop in the healthiest possible way.”