Nursery bosses and staff believe they should be able to ban junk food and sweet treats from lunchboxes, a poll found.
The latest NHS data shows 22.6% of four and five-year-olds in reception class are overweight or obese – up 22.4% on the year before. Of these, 9.7% are obese and 2.4% are severely obese.
The survey of 1,000 nursery owners, managers and staff by daynurseries.co.uk found 73% favoured being able to ban unhealthy food. And 27% said there were children they considered obese in their nursery.
Sue Learner, editor of daynurseries.co.uk, said that nurseries should be able to advise parents on the food they provide but a ban was a step too far.
She said: "It is shocking that one in 10 children start school obese. Pre-school years can be instrumental in helping form eating habits that can stay with a person for life, so it is vital nurseries play a part in educating children on healthy eating.
"It can be hard for parents who are often time-poor and I am as guilty as the next parent for slipping a bag of crisps or a cookie into my son's lunchbox.
"I think it is fine to discourage parents from giving their children sugary and fatty food, but relationships between the nursery and parent may be put in jeopardy by a draconian approach."
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