HC Deb 20 November 1997 vol 301 cc315-6W
Mr. Martyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent actions he has taken to reduce the national incidence of obesity; and if he will make a statement. [16333]

Ms Jowell

Diet and physical inactivity are major risk factors for obesity and coronary heart disease. Details of the Government's proposed public health strategy, which will include proposals to combat these, will be issued for consultation in a green paper later this winter.

Meanwhile, we want to maintain the momentum of the excellent national and local work which is currently being done in the areas of increasing physical activity and reducing the level of obesity. We are, therefore, pressing ahead with plans within the "Active for Life" physical activity campaign to focus not only on people aged 50 and over but also young women aged 16 to 24 and disabled people in the coming year. In a special exercise, we have also asked the Health Education Authority to investigate and report on the levels of physical activity appropriate for children and young people aged up to 16. The consultation work is currently under way. In addition, we are liaising with colleagues in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, to play a key role in promoting active and healthy modes of transport through the national cycling and walking forums.

In addition to this, last month we published a review of effective interventions in the prevention and treatment of obesity and work is in hand to establish a directory of weight management services available across the National Health Service in England, and to evaluate a sample of these for their effectiveness.

Also, the Health Education Authority continues to promote the healthy eating message, which is that a varied and balanced diet, in particular one which is low in fat and rich in fruit and vegetables, should have a longer-term impact on combatting obesity.

Forward to