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Childhood Obesity

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what work her Department has (a) undertaken and (b) funded on childhood obesity since 1997; and how much each project (i) has cost and (ii) is forecast to cost. (92811)

The Government have set a national 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 a whole. The target is jointly owned by the Department of Health, Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education and Skills in recognition that cross-Government action will be necessary to tackle this major public health issue.

There are many large cross-Government programmes that impact on obesity that the Department jointly funds. One example is the Healthy Schools Programme with an allocation of £16.1 million for 2006-07. We do not hold a total figure on spend on childhood obesity since 1997 but in addition to national health service spending the Department has funded a number of central initiatives to support action on obesity including:

the Department is currently working with stakeholders to develop an obesity prevention social marketing programme for launch in early 2007. The objective will be to prevent unhealthy weight gain in children aged 2 to 10, by influencing their parents and carers to make healthier food choices and to increase physical activity. £5 million has been allocated to develop this work in the financial year 2006-07;

the new Healthy Start Scheme, a reform of the Welfare Food Scheme, provides certain low-income families with vouchers to exchange for fruit, vegetables, milk and infant formula. The cost of the new Healthy Start Scheme is estimated at £130 million per annum and the scheme will be launched across the United Kingdom in November 2006;

£67 million between April 2001 and March 2006 on the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme;

£3 million allocated for the period 2004-06 to provide training on obesity for primary care staff, enabling staff to develop their skills; and

school pedometer pilots and local exercise action pilots. In excess of £3 million was allocated to these pilots in 2005-06.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons the Department has withdrawn its funding for the study into the link between childhood obesity and diabetes at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth. (92823)

The Department has never made a commitment to long-term funding of the EarlyBird study into the link between childhood obesity and diabetes, but responded in 2005 to a request for “stop-gap” funding to contribute to the continuity of staff contracts pending the outcome of their bid to a major research funder. Although a figure of up to £90,000 had originally been discussed with the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, funding was limited to a payment of £50,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent estimate she has made of the proportion of children aged between two and 10 years who are obese; and what the estimates were for each year since 1990-91. (97243)

We are unable to provide all the data requested. The data we can give are based on estimates provided by the Health Survey for England. The table presents data on obesity in children in 1995 and 2004, the earliest and most recent years for which data are available, and all years in between.

Prevalence of obesity among children aged 2 to 10 by gender, 1995-2004, England

Percentage

Unweighted

Weighted

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

20031

20041

20031

20041

Boys

9.6

11.0

11.1

11.4

16.1

12.2

13.5

15.2

14.9

16.2

15.1

15.9

Girls

10.3

10.2

10.7

11.8

13.0

11.8

12.7

15.8

12.5

11.9

12.4

12.8

Bases

Boys

1,261

1,418

2,007

1,336

633

570

1,035

2,364

876

416

878

5,368

Girls

1,266

1,365

2,082

1,216

628

523

1,094

2,290

897

343

858

4,901

1 From 2003 data are weighted for non response. Data weighted for child selection only are provided for consistency with previous years. Source: Health Survey for England 2004—updating of trend tables to include 2004 data, The Information Centre for Health and Social Care.