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Why a healthy, happy childhood matters

The foundations for virtually every aspect of human development are laid in early life. A healthy, happy start in life - from conception to adolescence - paves the way for a brighter and healthier future.

A crucial time with the greatest impact on a child’s future 

Giving children the best possible start in life is crucial to their future health and wellbeing – and to reducing inequalities across the life course. Evidence shows that a child’s home environment and how they are parented have life-long impacts on future health outcomes, emotional wellbeing, educational achievement and economic status. The vital importance of early life is unequivocally supported by research and is at the core of key national policy recommendations.

Read more about the importance of early life 

Laying foundations for a heathy future

The foundations for future health and wellbeing are laid in early life. Our cognitive development and lifelong weight status, physical activity levels, communication skills, and oral health all stem from what happens in early childhood. It’s extremely difficult to reverse negative impacts from childhood years on our health – for example, government data shows that just 1 in 20 children living with obesity at age 5 will return to a healthy weight by age 11; the vast majority will spend their entire lives living with obesity and its consequences. 

Learn more about the impact what happens in childhood on future health

It’s easier right from the start

Childhood presents a vital window of opportunity to set children off on the best possible trajectory for their whole lives. It’s often a time when parents have considerable contact with family support services and are likely to be more receptive to external support. Habits formed in early childhood are enduring; poor habits, once established, are very difficult to break.

Read more about establishing a healthy lifestyle right from the start

Return on investment

The economic case for investing in early life is compelling - the earlier the better. It’s not only cost-effective – ensuring children reach primary and secondary school in good health and ready to learn – but also delivers significant benefits to society as a whole. Investing in a great start in life is a cost-effective use of limited public funds.

Read more about return on investment

Giving every child the best start in life is crucial to reducing health inequalities across the life course.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot

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Commissioner Section
  • What HENRY offers 
  • How we support a healthy, happy childhood and the services we offer
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Why choose HENRY

Our services are evidence-based, effective, flexible, responsive and innovative