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Volume 464: debated on Friday 19 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to reduce levels of obesity in England. (159458)

Obesity is a serious problem, with significant health, social and financial costs. Successfully tackling the problem requires a whole society approach.

The Foresight report (copies of which are available in the Library) predicts that by 2050 over half the adult population will be obese, costing the nation an extra £45.5 billion a year.

The Government have already made significant progress in a number of areas. For example:

We have worked with Ofcom to change the nature and balance of advertising food to children, by restricting the promotion of foods high in salt, sugar and fat.

We have transformed school sport over the past five years, with 86 per cent, of school children now doing two hours of quality school sport a week. And we want to go further so that every child has the chance of five hours of sport every week, backed by £100 million a year additional investment.

We have put in place tougher nutritional standards for school food, supported by an investment of £500 million between 2005 and 2011 to transform school food across the school day.

In March 2006, the Food Standards Agency launched their signpost model for front of pack food labelling.

We commissioned Foresight to use scientific evidence to help us understand more fully the scale of the problem and with the publication of their report today, we now have a world-leading evidence platform to move further and faster in our approach to tackling obesity

The Government have committed to go further and faster on its existing obesity policies and will be developing a comprehensive cross-Government strategy on obesity, building on the evidence in this report. The work will be led by a cross-governmental ministerial group convened by the Secretary of State for Health.