Obesity Strategy 2020

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:58 pm on 27th May 2021.

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Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean 3:58 pm, 27th May 2021

That is right. I am very keen that we look at the evidence. I can see that through reformulation we have led the industry—the company that makes Lucozade and Ribena has been successful in doing that—but the real question is whether that has reduced the number of calories consumed, both by adults and by children, and had any impact on the number of people who are overweight or obese. It has clearly been successful in reducing the quantity of sugar consumed, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham said, sugar in itself is not a bad thing; people need to consume a certain amount of sugar to have a healthy diet. My worry is that we have reduced the amount of sugar in these products, but that will not actually make any difference to whether people have a healthy diet.

All these measures need to be tested. The point that I was making to the Minister earlier is that I do not want us to introduce them, wait nine years until 2030, and then say, “Goodness, it hasn’t worked.” I absolutely accept the Minister’s point that national targets may not make sense, but we need to look, at a local level, at whether the measures are successful. If they are not working, we need to change them and look at what the evidence suggests would be more successful in getting people to a healthy weight so that we all lead a healthier lifestyle.