I commend Cancer Research UK for campaigning on the issue of childhood obesity. Tackling childhood obesity is a major priority for this Government as it is concerned about the levels of overweight and obese children, and the impact on individual health.
The causes of obesity are complex, and can be brought on by a number of dietary, lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors and addressing it will require a comprehensive and broad approach. The Government is considering a range of options including the contribution that it, alongside industry, families, schools and communities can make.
This is an issue I have raised in Parliament myself and plans for tackling childhood obesity will be announced shortly. While the sort of extension to advertising restrictions you suggest could certainly be part of the solution, I would like to see a much more extensive approach as well.
I am pleased that there is a complete ban on the advertising of foods high in fat, sugars and salt during children’s television programmes, on dedicated children’s broadcast channels and in programmes of particular appeal to children under the age of 16. Ministers have noted Public Health England’s recent assessment of evidence on the impact of marketing to children and are considering this advice as part of plans to bring forward a new childhood obesity strategy.
The Government also continues to invest in the Change4Life campaign, which provides motivation and support for families to make small but significant improvements to their diets and activity levels. A new Sugar Smart app has been launched to help parents see how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink
I believe that education must play a key role in tackling this problem. PE is a compulsory subject at all four Key Stages in the national curriculum for maintained schools and I am delighted that the Government has committed to continue the PE and sports premium in primary schools.
I know that obesity can cause Type 2 diabetes which can be devastating, and I am pleased that the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme will help 100,000 people a year to avoid developing the disease.