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Volume 401: debated on Friday 14 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to introduce a National Standards Framework to tackle obesity. [100546]

The Government are not considering a national standards framework (NSF) for obesity. However, action to address obesity is being taken forward through the NSF for coronary heart disease and older people. Action to reduce obesity will be necessary to meet Standard 1 of the NSF for diabetes.Following publication of the Government's strategy for sustainable farming and food, the Department of Health is leading on developing a food and health action plan. This will pull together all of the issues on diet and nutrition, which is of direct relevance to the prevention and management of obesity, and promote action at national, regional and local levels.Current guidance available to contribute to tackling obesity includes guidance issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence on the anti-obesity drugs orlistat and sibutramine, and surgery and a national quality assurance framework for exercise referral systems to promote physical activity. The evidenced-based Five-a-day handbook will support staff in primary care trusts and other organisations to establish community-wide initiatives to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and the Health Development Agency is providing a report setting out the evidence base for the prevention and treatment of overweight people and obesity, and the maintenance of weight loss. Evidence from the local exercise action pilots will also provide guidance for increasing physical activity levels.