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Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 17 October 2023

We are making the most significant public health intervention in a generation by creating a smoke-free generation. To put that in context, every five cigarettes a day increases the risk of stroke by 12%. We are also rolling out free blood pressure checks to people over 40 in community pharmacies, which will help to detect much earlier thousands more people living with high blood pressure.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Many commercial infant and toddler foods are ultra-processed, which sets alarm bells ringing as ultra-processed food is strongly associated with cardiovascular diseases and 40% of 10 to 11-year-olds are overweight or obese. I strongly believe that parents are being misled by companies that put health claims on ultra-processed infant food, when in fact the food is anything but healthy—it is high in fat, salt and sugar. What steps are the Government taking to address the disingenuous and grossly misleading marketing and labelling of commercial infant and toddler food and drink?

As my hon. Friend knows, there is no agreed definition for ultra-high processed food. As a general principle, I do not think we should be taxing and banning things—smoking is an outlier. We have to empower the patient and recognise the pressures from the cost of living. We are also rolling out anti-obesity drugs to give patients access to the most innovative drugs as part of our wider response to the challenge of obesity.

What is the Secretary of State’s view of the worrying trend of increased cardiac-related deaths in the UK and around the world since 2021, which correlates closely with the roll-out of the experimental mRNA vaccines?

It is always important to follow the science. That is why, at the G20, Health Ministers agreed to look at the various research being done in multiple countries, particularly on long covid but also on the lessons from that period, to ensure that research from that period is shared internationally so we can learn best practice from other countries as well as within the NHS.