§ Baroness Byford
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they recognise the problem of obesity, especially among young people; and, if so, what proposals they have to establish a campaign about nutritious food led by the Department of Health. [HL3901]
§ Lord Hunt of Kings Heath
The Government are committed to tackling the rising trend in childhood obesity and action to encourage children to eat a balanced diet. We have put in place major cross-government programmes of work to improve healthy eating and increase physical activity. This includes the National School Fruit Scheme, where over 80,000 children in 27 areas and over 500 schools now receive a free piece of fruit each school day. Additional funding of £42 million from the New Opportunities Fund will enable the scheme to expand to cover over 1 million children from 2002 to 2004. From 2004 all four to six year-olds will be entitled to a free piece of fruit each school day. This is part of a wider Five-a-day Programme to increase access to, and awareness of, fruit and vegetables.
Secondly, there is work with industry to improve the overall balance of diet, including the reduction of salt, sugar and fat in food.
We already have a National Healthy School Programme, a joint initiative between the Department of Health and Department for Education and Skills, which has as one of its themes healthy eating. Schools are encouraged to provide, promote and monitor healthier food at lunch and break times and in any breakfast clubs. This will be complemented by the Food in Schools Programme which aims to bring together under one umbrella all food-related initiatives in schools and after school clubs to improve health and learning.
Physical activity is also important. We are working across government to ensure that children have opportunities to participate in a wide range of physical and sporting activities. On 11 January 2001 the Prime Minister announced that all children will be entitled to a minimum of two hours a week of high quality physical education and school sport both within and beyond the school curriculum. This was followed by a commitment in the White Paper Schools—achieving success. Significant funding is also being provided to enhance PE and sports facilities in schools, including £541 million from the New Opportunities Fund for a PE and Sports Programme.