HC Deb 17 December 2001 vol 377 c167W
Ms Shipley

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action his Department is taking to tackle obesity in children; and if he will make a statement. [22111]

Jacqui Smith

We are committed to tackling the current trend of rising obesity among children. The NHS plan makes a commitment to wide-ranging action to improve diet and nutrition, and local action to tackle obesity and physical inactivity, informed by advice from the Health Development Agency on what works.

The National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease requires that all national health service bodies will have agreed and be contributing to the delivery of local programmes of effective policies on overweight and obesity and will have quantified data on the programme by April 2002.

There are major programmes of work under way to tackle poor diet and physical inactivity. 80,000 children are now receiving a free piece of fruit every day as part of the national school fruit scheme. We recently announced that the scheme will benefit from an extra £42 million from the New Opportunities Fund and will be extended to cover the whole of the West Midlands region from the summer term 2002—extending its reach to over 250,000 children. In addition, £2 million is being invested in the food in schools programme which brings together under one umbrella all food-related initiatives in schools and after school clubs to improve health and learning.

We are also working across Government to ensure that children have opportunities to participate in a wide range of physical and sporting activities, including high quality physical education and walking and cycling to school. This is backed up by significant investment, including £581 million of New Opportunities Fund money for the physical education and sports programme, which is being used to improve school sports facilities.

Following the publication of the National Audit Office report "Tackling Obesity in England" which was published earlier this year, we are awaiting final recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee. Their conclusions will shape future work in this area.