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Volume 448: debated on Thursday 6 July 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to reduce childhood obesity; and if she will make a statement. (67832)

Reducing obesity is one of the six overarching priorities of the “Choosing Health” White Paper, published in November 2004. In July 2004, the Government set a public service agreement (PSA) target to halt the year-on-year increase in obesity among children under 11 by 2010 in the context of a broader strategy to tackle obesity in the population as a whole.

Specific actions to reduce childhood obesity include:

requirements to meet healthy eating and physical activity criteria to achieve Healthy School status;

new school food-based standards from September 2006, followed by more stringent nutrient-based standards in primary schools by September 2008, and secondary schools by September 2009;

ensuring the school sports strategy and sports partnerships are making the maximum impact on child obesity;

looking at ways of restricting the marketing of unhealthy foods to children;

working with the food industry to reduce levels of fat, salt and sugar in products, and to provide front-of-pack labelling to enable consumers to make informed choices;

development of a healthy living social marketing campaign; and

providing an activity toolkit for schools to support physical activity across the school day, including the journey to school and after school clubs.

In addition, we have published a self-help guide to assist parents in managing their children's weight, a care pathway for treating and managing childhood obesity and an obesity bulletin to give practitioners and managers new tools to handle obesity. We are strengthening our actions in early years through schemes like Sure Start and through health visitors' targeted interventions. The data on height and weight that primary care trusts (PCTs) will be collecting in primary schools from this summer will help them identify which areas, schools or children's centres need particular help. Comprehensive National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on the prevention and treatment of obesity will also support PCTs' and practitioners' contribution to tackling obesity locally.