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Volume 461: debated on Monday 11 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the reasons for recent trends in rates of obesity; and what steps she is taking to encourage physical exercise. (139799)

Although the rise in obesity cannot be attributed to any single factor, it is the imbalance between energy in (through the food choices we make) and energy out (mainly through physical activity) which is the root cause.

Following input from academic, commercial and voluntary sector sources, the Medical Research Council report reviewing the evidence for behaviour change goals is now complete and was launched on 14 March 2007.

“Choosing Activity: a physical activity action plan” was published on 9 March 2005. This represents the first truly cross-Government plan to co-ordinate action aimed at increasing levels of physical activity across the whole population. In August 2006 I was asked by the Prime Minister to work across Government on a new strategy, building on Choosing Activity to increase the public’s fitness and activity levels in the run up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress is being made in the Government’s obesity social marketing campaign. (140606)

We have developed a robust social marketing/consumer insight framework to inform and enable targeted work at a national, regional and local level to tackle childhood obesity. We have also been working closely with a wide range of stakeholders across the food and activity spectrum, including representatives from Government, commercial and not-for-profit sectors. A core expert review group have validated the approach taken and outputs to date.

The first initiative in the programme, the “5 A DAY Top Tips for Top Mums” campaign, was launched in March. The campaign encourages families to think more about how they can improve their diet and increase fruit and vegetable consumption among children between the ages of two and 11, specifically those in low-income young families.