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Healthy Eating

Volume 202: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much is spent by his Department on advice to the public in respect of healthy eating.

During the current financial year, some £2.7 million will be spent by the Department and the Health Education Authority on healthy eating advice.

Is it not time that the Government diverted rather more of their enormous advertising budget into advocating the eating of vegetables to promote health? After all, the Minister is surrounded by a large number of them on the Conservative Benches. If she were interested in such a campaign, she could perhaps use as the model for it our own dear Speaker, whose radiant health and youthfulness make him the perfect epitome of a diet based on vegetarianism.

The hon. Gentleman's advice should be warmly taken by members of his own party. May I suggest that he directs that advice to those who think that the right way forward is a £500 roadside snack at the Savoy to raise party funds? It may also be helpful to those who dine at Italian restaurants and seem to suffer from Luigi's syndrome.

Is it part of the Government's duty to advise us all on what we should eat? Is my hon. Friend aware that I have lived for a number of years without any such advice, and I cannot believe that it is really necessary?

My hon. Friend's view is worth having. On the whole, the advice is in favour of a balanced and sensible diet, and I think that the public wants facts and not fads. Mrs. Heal: Why will not the Minister introduce nutritional guidelines for school meals to ensure that the school meals service plays a vital role in child nutrition, as recommended in the Black report a decade ago?

We have had the excellent report of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy, which has been extremely helpful. A great deal of work is being carried out by the Health Education Authority, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to ensure that people have simple and effective information about healthy eating, and a great deal is being done on school meals, with the particular help of the wife of our own Secretary of State.