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Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 10 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent discussions (a) he and (b) his Department has had on measures to tackle obesity among children through (i) better diet and (ii) exercise in schools. (90080)

Childhood obesity is a serious issue, both in terms of the range of health problems it is associated with and also the cost burden it places on the NHS and the UK economy.

To tackle this problem, the Government have set a public service agreement target

“to halt, by 2010, the year-on-year increase in obesity among children under 11 in the context of a broader strategy to tackle obesity in the population as whole”.

This target is the joint responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, the Secretary of State for Health, and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Officials from these Departments have met and have held meetings with officials from other Departments. They have also had discussions with representatives of partner organisations including the School Food Trust, Sport England and the Youth Sport Trust, to develop and progress the actions which will halt the rise in childhood obesity.

For example, the School Food Programme will contribute to healthier food in schools through new regulation for nutritional standards for food in schools, funding and practical support to improve the quality of food in schools.

The National School Sport Strategy, which is being delivered jointly by this Department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is increasing the amount and quality of physical education and school sport for our young people. Our overall aim, a joint PSA target, is to increase the percentage of young people who take part in at least two hours of high quality PE and school sport each week to 75 per cent. by 2006 and on to 85 per cent. by 2008.

The Healthy Schools programme, for which this Department and the Department of Health established a joint delivery unit, requires schools which wish to have Healthy School status to meet four standards: healthy eating, physical activity, emotional health, and personal, social and health education. The Government want all schools to be working towards Healthy School status by 2009 and 75 per cent. of schools have already achieved that status or are working towards it.