Obesity Strategy 2020

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:56 pm on 27th May 2021.

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Photo of Jo Churchill Jo Churchill The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 2:56 pm, 27th May 2021

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered implementing the 2020 Obesity Strategy.

I congratulate my hon. Friend Andrew Selous on securing this important debate on something I know he is passionate about and about which I have met him on many occasions.

Currently 64% of all adults and 30% of children are classified as overweight or living with obesity. This masks the fact that in some areas the figure is as high as three in four adults. It is a complex issue that has a huge cost not to only the health and wellbeing of the individual but to the NHS and the wider economy. It makes individuals susceptible to a plethora of illnesses. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Minister for Care, who was at the Dispatch Box for the previous debate, commented to me that if we could get the general weight of the population down we would help people with more exercise and a better diet, as well as the health trajectory of those who live with dementia.

Covid has shone a light on why it is more important than ever that we need to get the nation healthy. Obesity is the only modifiable risk factor for covid-19 and a major modifiable risk factor for other diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular, and some cancers—in point of fact, many. We are therefore at a teachable moment in which we can change attitudes, educate and influence drivers around less than healthy dietary and physical activity, and motivate behaviours so that they change. Helping people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important things we can do to improve our nation’s health, and we all have a role to play in meeting the challenge. It is complex. There is no silver bullet. There is no single source of responsibility. It will take action from all of us to work together to achieve our ambition—from the producer, to the processor, to the retailer, to the customer, with quite a dollop of influencing the environment through actions we in Government and in Parliament take and are taking.

Our strategy to meet the challenge, published last July, is far-reaching in its ambition. It reflects the significant work undertaken over the past four years to halve childhood obesity. Currently two out of every five children who enter primary school are overweight or obese. That number rises in the six years they are at primary school to three out of every five children.