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Volume 652: debated on Tuesday 15 January 2019

This Government are taking bold, world-leading action on child obesity that meets the scale of the challenge that we face. We have a soft drinks industry levy, a sugar reduction programme already working, measures on banning energy drinks, calorie labelling consulted on, and a consultation on restricting price and location promotions of sugary and fatty foods which I launched on Saturday.

The introduction of a 9 pm watershed on the marketing of junk food to children is the No. 1 ask of the Obesity Health Alliance, supported by Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and many of the royal colleges. When will we see that consultation launched?

I am glad that my hon. Friend mentions CRUK, which has launched a powerful new marketing campaign that Members will see around Westminster and in the media over the rest of this month. We will launch the consultation on further advertising that was in chapter 2 of the child obesity plan, including the 9 pm watershed, very shortly. We are working hard to ensure that the remaining consultations announced in the second chapter are right. I want to get them right and, when they are ready and we are satisfied that they are the right tools to do the job that we want to face this enormous challenge, we will publish them.

With recent Northern Ireland figures showing that at least 25% of young people and 40% of teens are classed as overweight or obese, will the Minister outline what cross-departmental discussions have taken place on the strategies to improve the health of young people through co-ordination and interaction with parents and the provision of healthy eating schemes?

Of course, health is devolved, but we talk to our opposite numbers all the time, as do our officials. Our north star ambition to halve child obesity by 2030 is right and it is shared and matched by our colleagues in Scotland, and we look to our colleagues in Northern Ireland to do the same. Any advice and support that they want from our world-leading plan is more than on offer.

Does the Minister agree with the campaign being advanced by Jamie Oliver to ensure that doctors in training are given more extensive training in nutrition and its benefits for health?

Yes, I do. I was fortunate enough to visit Southend pier before Christmas to talk to Jamie and Jimmy about this. Nutrition training and the understanding of what is involved in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight varies between medical schools. Some courses have only eight hours over what can be a five or six-year degree. Together with the professional bodies and the universities, we will—as we said in the long-term plan—ensure that nutrition has a greater place in professional education training.

We are all very impressed by how well connected the Minister is. He is obviously on first-name terms with these illustrious individuals—[Interruption.] Indeed, I am sure they are thrilled to befriend the Minister—no reason to doubt it.

Scotland’s childhood obesity plan recognises breastfeeding as the best start to life for babies. Will he look at that in his plans and ensure that the support is available to allow women to breastfeed for as long as they wish to?

Yes, we will. We recognise that it gives a good start in life. Working with my colleague the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price), I will meet one of the groups in that area to talk about it shortly. I know the hon. Lady chairs the infant feeding all-party group, and I am happy to talk to her about that at any time. We see it as an essential start in life.