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Small Change Big Difference Campaign

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department and its agencies have taken following the launch of the Government's Small Change Big Difference Campaign. (72002)

A key element of the Ministry of Defence's 'People Programme' concerns the health, welfare and sickness absence of our civilian staff. From 1 June 2006, guidance will be included on the Defence Intranet to encourage staff to consider healthy choices in relation to lifestyle and diet. Guidance will be available on giving up smoking, diet and maintaining a healthy weight, alcohol consumption and exercise. Links will be provided to specialist websites and Government initiatives including 'Small Change, Big Difference'.

As part of the launch of these services, the Department is to hold a ‘Health Awareness Week' in early July. A series of events will be held around MOD sites to promote a healthy lifestyle. MOD already has a thriving Sports and Social Association and a number of workplace sports clubs and gyms which staff can join at their own cost and in their own time. MOD restaurants also provide healthy choices.

Health is vital to operational effectiveness and the armed forces have always had policies for health promotion. A Health Promotion Action Plan was published last year prior to the production of the Choosing Health White Paper covering issues such as diet, tobacco and alcohol consumption and sexual health. There is an expert panel on armed forces feeding which advises on diet and has published “Recruits' and Commanders' Guides to Nutrition”. These offer advice on diets and eating patterns which are compatible with military requirements and health.