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Ministers Need To Answer Questions Following Dispatches Investigation Into The Childhood Obesity Plan

02/11/2016 13:58

Since its publication in the summer, we have all had concerns about the final outcome of the Childhood Obesity Plan, but this week's Channel 4 Dispatches investigation highlighted once again that the Prime Minister failed to put the health of the nation's children first.

The Health Secretary promised us that the Childhood Obesity Plan would be a "game changing" moment in tackling "a national emergency". Many called for bold action; from the House of Common's Health Select Committee and Public Health England, along with organisations such as Action on Sugar, Cancer Research UK and the Children's Food Trust.

Yet, when it was published, the plan was met with deep disappointment as a missed opportunity. As Dispatches revealed many of the expected measures were cut from the final document in the transition from David Cameron to Theresa May, including measures on regulating the promotion of junk food in stores and on our TVs, mandatory sugar reformulation in food and drink production and the damning omission of a target to reduce obesity cases by half by 2026.

This target would have would have given us a clear benchmark to assess the Government's progress on reducing obesity in the UK, but instead became a watered down and ambiguous pledge to 'significantly reduce' obesity.

Obesity is a burgeoning crisis facing the health and prosperity of our nation. With one in three children leaving primary school overweight or obese and the NHS facing an estimated yearly bill of £5.1 billion to tackle obesity-related illnesses, then it is only right that we have a comprehensive and preventative strategy in place that gets to grips with this serious issue.

Sadly, what we have right now does not go far enough.

Ministers promised to have an on-going dialogue about how we best address obesity. As part of that dialogue, the Government must come clean about why this Plan was reduced so significantly.

What we need right now is a commitment from ministers that goes further than what is in place and finally realise the preventative strategy we were all promised and wanted to see. The next generation deserves these questions being asked, and more importantly, robustly answered. The Government cannot continue to squander this opportunity any longer. Our children deserve better than what this Government is offering them.

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