Obesity Strategy 2020

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:15 pm on 27th May 2021.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health) 4:15 pm, 27th May 2021

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for clarifying the matter. I knew that is what he meant, but I thank him.

The health survey for England refers to 1,000 people aged over 16, 277 of whom were obese and 31 were morbidly obese. In Northern Ireland, the figures are replicated; in fact, they are the same everywhere. Childhood obesity is a crucial issue on which much more needs to be done to make youths feel less self-conscious about the issue but at the same time able to do something about it. Obesity affects one in every five children in Northern Ireland. The figures there unfortunately show that there are outstanding problems to be addressed. Obesity exaggerates high blood pressure, diabetes and liver disease. Obesity is one of the three main causes of liver disease, in particular. Obesity also affects many other things, as the Minister said. It is very important to put that on record.

I have met constituents of mine over the years who had a medical condition that meant that they were not obese by choice but because of the circumstances of their own individual bodies. The people I am referring to had to go for bariatric surgery. I know some people who did that and I know it changed their lives. Perhaps the Minister could comment on how such procedures can be looked after within the NHS, because to do it privately costs over £10,000.

This is a serious health problem and it affects thousands of people. I want people to live their lives healthily and happily. I believe children should be taught that support is all around them and that their size is nothing to be ashamed of. There are ways to go about detecting obesity. However, I feel that one of the most important factors in tackling this issue is to reassure people that they will not be judged. Judgment often leads to resentment and failure, and there is no doubt that it is a sensitive issue for those who struggle with weight loss. I therefore urge the Minister to take that into consideration. I also urge others to be kind when it comes to such a topic. I believe that help and support is there for all those who are obese and seek help. I sincerely hope that in the coming years we can work together to bring forward a strategy that will encourage people and not do them down.