HEY! (Healthy Eating for Young Children) Programme Briefing

Background information

The HEY! programme has been running since July 2013, following a successful pilot which ran between 2011 and March 2013. HEY! is co-ordinated by the Community Health and Learning Foundation (CHLF) and funded by Danone Nutricia Early Years Nutrition as part of their pro-active approach to Corporate Social Responsibility.

HEY! is an Early Years community health improvement project which aims to improve the health outcomes and life chances of children aged one to three years, living in areas of disadvantage, by engaging their parents in healthy eating and Skills for Life learning.

About the Community Health and Learning Foundation

CHLF is the UK’s leading Health Literacy organisation, working to create a more Health Literate Health and Social Care system. We are a Community Interest Company and a large part of our work involves supporting the reduction of health inequalities which we achieve through three main areas; training, resource development and focus groups.

You can find out more about the work of the CHLF by visiting www.chlfoundation.org.uk

Vision statement

The aims of HEY! reflect Danone’s global mission and core purpose of ‘bringing health through food to as many people as possible … … because nourishing early life today really matters for tomorrow’.

The rationale for HEY! is based on a body of evidence that shows that childhood obesity is linked to parents’ eating habits. This was confirmed by recent research by the University of Exeter, published in the International Journal of Obesity in April 2015, which discovered that the rise in obesity among very young children has been largely restricted to the minority with obese parents. The research data suggest that ‘parenting is the fundamental influence on weight gain in the early years, whereas more general (peer-group) influences take over later on….and public health strategies may need to be tailored accordingly’.

The HEY! programme is targeted at families living in areas of high disadvantage. Research evidence demonstrates that families living in the most disadvantaged communities are often those who have the worst health outcomes because they face the most difficult challenges in managing their health and wellbeing. A lack of language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills is one of the major contributing factors to this. For this reason, HEY!  embeds Skills for Life (LLN) learning into its healthy eating topics, and this where CHLF’s expertise comes in.


The case for change

In England 43% of adults (18-65) do not have adequate literacy skills to routinely understand health information. 61% of adults (18-65) do not have adequate numeracy skills to routinely understand health information. (Rowlands G, Protheroe J, Winkley J, Seed P T, Richardson M, 2015). In relation to healthy eating, this means that people may be unable to interpret diet and nutrition messages, understand food package labelling, understand portion sizes, understand what constitutes a balanced diet, follow recipes and make informed choices about adopting healthy eating habits as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

One in four British adults is obese (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation). Obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and, on current estimates, more than half the population could be obese by 2050.

Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults (Susan Jebb, Professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford). The risk of becoming obese is thought to start at an early age and obesity in a parent increases the risk of childhood obesity by 10%. In 2011, around 30% of children aged two to 15 were either overweight or obese.

Obesity is also closely linked to deprivation levels (Dr Alison Tedstone, Director of Diet and Obesity at Public Health England). The association is especially strong with children. Children in poor communities are far more likely to be obese.

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many serious illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, as well as cancer. Obesity has been blamed for about 30,000 deaths a year in the UK, 9,000 of those taking place before retirement age. Alongside disease, obesity can affect peoples’ ability to get and hold down work, their self-esteem and their wellbeing and mental health.

Delivery Model

HEY! courses are delivered locally by staff in Children’s Centres and Early Years settings across England.

Children’s Centres send outreach staff and/or family support workers to a one day HEY! ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop, which is delivered by CHLF.  At the workshop, participants learn how to use the HEY! resources to deliver the seven week course which covers topics such as healthy lifestyles, balanced diet, portion sizes, reading food labels, shopping smart and following recipes. All of these topics have LLN learning embedded within them. Following the workshop, the Children’s Centres deliver the course to their parents and Danone provides a grant to them of £200 per course for consumables and equipment. Parents have the opportunity to have their learning accredited as the course is mapped to the RSPH Level 1 Award in Health Improvement. CHLF continue to provide ongoing support for Children’s centres as and when required following the training. As part of the grant agreement, Children’s Centres provide feedback to CHLF about the impact of the course on the parents and children.

Benefits already achieved from the HEY! programme

Outputs from the HEY! Train the Trainer Programme since July 2013…

  • 205 staff members from 132 different Children’s Centres and Early Years Settings have been trained to deliver HEY! courses to parents;
  • Nine organisations have been involved in the delivery of HEY! courses in their local community; 4Children, Barnardo’s, Spurgeons, Action for Children; Leicestershire County Council, Buckinghamshire County Council, WEA, Aylesbury Healthy Living Centre and an Independent Children’s Centre;
  • 99% of those trained rated the HEY! training workshop as very good or good;
  • 99% of those trained rated the HEY! CHLF trainers as very good or good.

Delivery of HEY!

  • 70 HEY! courses have been delivered in 61 different Children’s Centres/Early Years Settings in 52 locations across England;
  • 614 parents have completed a HEY! course.

Outcomes for parents and their families

Increased knowledge

  • 204 parents have completed the RSPH Level 1 Award in Health Improvement and had their learning formally accredited;
  • 98% of parents know how to eat and drink healthily – compared with 66% at the start;
  • 93% said they know how to exercise – up from 77% at the start;
  • 96% of parents know how much of each type of food they should eat to have a healthy, balanced diet – three times more than at the beginning;
  • 88% of parents think it is possible to eat healthily on a small budget – double those at the start.

Behaviour change

  • 78% of parents make a shopping list either all or most of the time – nearly twice those at the start;
  • 76% keep their shopping bill within budget all or most of the time;
  • 43% of parents sit at a table as a family for their meals – up from 28% at the start;
  • 61% of parents involve their toddler in food preparation and activities (from 21%);
  • A noticeable rise in parents eating more than ‘5 a day’ fruit and vegetables – with very few still eating fewer than ‘3 a day’.

Behaviour change was continuing at 6-8 weeks after the HEY! course had ended.

The conclusion of the external evaluator was….

“We conclude that the Danone HEY! course is having a significant and sustained impact on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles for parents and their young children. This impact is largely due to the design of HEY! and the resources in place for the delivery of HEY! – which children’s centres, tutors and parents have greeted enthusiastically.”

For more information on HEY!

For more information or to get involved with HEY! please contact janet.solla@chlfoundation.org.uk

Helen Baker

Associate Director, CHLF

August 2015

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