In response to the UK’s general election next month, the BSNA says there is a real opportunity for the next government to maximise the value of specialist nutrition especially during critical life stages.
The group’s manifesto sets out a series of policy recommendations in the areas of infant nutrition, healthy ageing as well as coeliac disease.
“BSNA members believe that parents should be respected and supported in their decision on how to feed their baby,” the Manifesto states.
“Commercial baby foods have been designed to offer parents a healthy alternative to general foods when feeding infants.
“While the majority of commercial baby foods contain no added sugar or salt, companies continue to work with PHE on their reformulation programme to reduce sugar content and to ensure the labelling of products enables parents to make informed choices.”
BSNA’s recommendations urge the country’s Government to take a ‘whole diet’ approach to childhood obesity, recognising the positive role commercial baby foods can provide in the nourishment of children.
The Group also request the Government to reinstate the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC) to ensure there is representative data on the diets of infants and young children in the UK.
The intention here is for recommendations to be evidence-based and their impact can be evaluated by Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency sponsored by the Governmental Department of Health and Social Care.
PHE can then collaborate with companies to develop evidence-based policies that support the best start in life for infants and children.
The Manifesto also highlights the ‘high regulatory standards’ that formula milk and baby food products adhere to that ensure the quality, safety and appropriate communication of products.
The group emphasises the importance of legislation and policy development continuing to be based on the best available scientific research.
“BSNA members seek to work collaboratively with Government and PHE, so that parents are confident in the industry’s contribution to a healthy start in life for infants and young children,” the Manifesto adds.
Elderly nutritional needs
The BSNA also highlight the nutritional requirements of the elderly, commenting that it is right for health bodies to focus more than ever on prevention and not just cure.
Policy recommendations here include all newly established Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) appoint a clinical lead for nutrition and fully embed nutritional support pathways in the care they provide.
ICSs should improve the assessment and identification of patients at risk of malnutrition (specifically referring to undernutrition) and ensure appropriate management, including the use of medical foods where appropriate.
A review of procurement procedures should be completed to ensure the sustainable supply of products essential to maintaining the health of patients in need of specialist nutritional care in all settings.
Finally the Government and NHS England to appoint a National Clinical Director for Nutrition to ensure the effective coordination of such policies across NHS and social care settings and that this should be included in ministerial responsibilities
A €2.3bn economy
“Good nutrition during early life plays a key role in determining lifelong health,” says BSNA’s director-general, Declan O’Brien.
“Given the important role that specialist nutrition plays in the lives of these different groups, it is also important that the industry can continue to operate in a safe, competitive and sustainable way at local, national and international level.”
Infant nutrition, healthy ageing as well as coeliac disease are the main focus of the BSNA’s work in providing a voice of the specialist nutrition industry in the UK in which the sector contributes a total of €2.3bn (£2bn) to the UK economy.
Members include producers of infant formula, follow-on formula, young child formula, complementary weaning foods, gluten-free foods, parenteral nutrition and medical foods (for diagnosed disorders and medical conditions).