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Child Obesity

Volume 450: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2006

Food retailers have a vital role to play in tackling obesity, and I think that they are beginning to make a difference through reducing the amount of fat and sugar in processed food, providing clear front-of-pack labelling and supporting their customers to make healthy choices. We are seeing more evidence that where retailers take a proactive approach to healthy eating, it can actually improve their profit margins. I suggest that that is a win-win situation.

I recently presented IT equipment to schools in my constituency as part of the Tesco computers for schools initiative, and it occurred to me that much of the money that families spend to obtain the vouchers goes on crisps, sweets and chocolate, which make children obese. I suggested to Tesco that it should amend its scheme by excluding such products from the eligible spend for the vouchers or by giving double points for fruit and vegetables. Will my hon. Friend support that idea? Does she agree that it is a great opportunity for Tesco, Britain’s leading food retailer, to send a powerful message and to lead the way in the fight against childhood obesity?

It is a good idea for retailers, both Tesco and others, to reward healthy purchasing. There are many ways in which retailers can work to support their customers. I am happy to raise the matter with the retailers, whom I meet regularly. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his initiative.