HC Deb 18 June 1997 vol 296 cc162-3W
Shona McIsaac

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for tackling levels of obesity and obesity-related illnesses in the United Kingdom. [3515]

Ms Jowell

Tackling obesity is a particularly challenging problem. "The Health of the Nation" target is to reduce the percentages of men and women aged 16 to 64 who are obese 6 per cent. for men and 8 per cent. for women by 2005. However in 1995 15 per cent. of men and 16.5 per cent. of women were obese, highlighting the gravity of the problem. Obesity is a long-term problem and needs a long-term strategy. We will continue to support the action on obesity and obesity-related illness initiated by the Nutrition Task Force and the Physical Activity Task Force which addresses:

  1. (a) prevention of increasing fatness in the whole population;
  2. (b) the particular problems of high risk groups e.g. those already overweight;
  3. (c) treatment of those who are already obese.

We also recognise how important a balanced diet is for giving young people a healthy start in life. This is why my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment has recently proposed the introduction of nutrition standards for inclusion in school meals contracts.