On Thursday 4 February, Sir David Amess called for a debate on the importance of implementing the Government’s obesity strategy. Sir David chaired the Westminster Food & Nutrition Conference: next steps for reducing obesity in England on Tuesday 2 February and is the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Food and Health.
Sir David Amess said:
Will my right hon. Friend find time for a further debate on implementing the Government’s strategy on obesity? Having this week chaired a forum on that very subject, it really was brought home to me that as much as we talk about this growing crisis, it would appear that there is still not enough joined-up action from the Departments that are involved in delivering the strategy.
Jacob Rees-Mogg replied:
I have been waiting for some months now for my hon. Friend to ask again about Southend becoming a city and whether there will be general celebration when that happens, but he keeps on delaying. We are expecting the seagulls in Southend to be taking over from the pigeons to bring us messages about city status for Southend. However, he raises a very important point. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown into light how urgent it is for us to reduce obesity, and it is one of the Prime Minister’s personal priorities. We launched our strategy, “Tackling obesity: empowering adults and children to live healthier lives”, in July 2020. It sets out an overarching campaign to reduce obesity, taking forward actions from previous chapters of the childhood obesity plan, including the Government’s ambition to halve the number of children living with obesity by 2030, and includes measures to get the nation fit and healthy to protect against covid-19 and help the NHS. Government Departments do work closely together on reducing obesity and share responsibility for delivering the measures set out in the obesity strategy. They are also working with councils to reduce child obesity locally through ground-breaking schemes. As I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) about alcohol, there is the similar difficulty that the Government, in being prescriptive, may stop people doing things that do not do them any harm while also protecting people from harm. It is a matter of great deliberation to try to get this balance right.