Obesity Strategy 2020

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:40 pm on 27th May 2021.

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Photo of Greg Smith Greg Smith Conservative, Buckingham 3:40 pm, 27th May 2021

Obesity is clearly a huge challenge facing our country, and one that absolutely should not be ignored, but I do fear that the state is significantly overreaching in some of the proposals that have come forward as part of the obesity strategy. The approach to foods high in fat, sugar and salt encompasses a perversely broad range of products, including butter, granola, porridge oats, muesli and protein bars, none of which have any particular appeal to or indeed are marketed to children, yet all of which are treated as junk food.

Breakfast cereals were previously heralded for high fibre but are now demonised. No distinction is made for naturally occurring sugars and fats from the dried fruits and nuts that are so often present in those products. If the state is really saying that breakfast cereals are bad, where does that naturally push people? A bacon sandwich? A full English? A pain au chocolat? All are things that I am particularly partial to but that I do not think the public health establishment will be keen to endorse. Perhaps people could have toast? But then we see that butter is on the HFSS naughty list.

Many breakfast cereal producers pay farmers, including in my constituency, a premium for buying their oats, thereby paying for the environmental and wildlife schemes that I am sure we all value. Let us be in no doubt that any policy that reduces cereal-makers’ ability to sell wholegrain cereals will adversely impact on great British farmers.