17/05/2012 12:39 BST | Updated 17/05/2012 13:48 BST

Diane Abbott Says the Left Needs To Reclaim The Family From The Right

Feminist attitudes in the 1980s which had an ambivalence towards talking about the family as it was seen as a "site of oppression" were a mistake, Labour shadow health minister Diane Abbott has said.

Speaking at an event hosted by the think-tank Policy Exchange on Thursday morning, Abbott praised the Labour Party for "breaking with conservative family norms and escaping the looming and stifling clouds tradition", but lamented that there had been "too little space for family and community, too little to say about the family".

She warned that "the Left has abandoned the issue of the family to the Right in politics".

"It is time for the left... the centre-left to address itself about these issues," she added.

She also declared the state of children's health in the country is nearing a "national emergency". She said that children's health has worsened due to the rise of "McParenting".

"When fast food is not a treat but a dietary staple, the children surf the internet all day in dark corners of the room and are bombarded with latest gadgets. Things replace parental standards"

"We have the fattest generation of kids ever, the level is very alarming" she said, "tackling childhood obesity is key".

She said the level of obesity was not due to personal responsibility, but the "overweening and overbearing market". "Families are struggling against a tide of junk information on junk food" she declared.

She criticised the upcoming Olympics for their association with McDonalds, as "the so-called healthy games is hosting largest Mcdonald's in the world in the Olympic Park".

She suggested that public health should be one of the criteria when deciding on local planning applications, so "local authorities would be able to do something about the proliferation of fast foods".

The free schools and academies, promoted by Education Secretary Michael Gove, came under heavy criticism for their food standards. She claimed that 9/10 of them have "junk food, fizzy drinks and sweets on sale". She lamented that "for 1000 flowers to bloom in education, we have gone backwards on the basic health needs that we have fought for".

This comes as Gove was criticised by TV chef Jamie Oliver for "putting children's future health at risk" by allowing academies to sell junk food.

"Michael Gove is allergic to anything in the national curriculum that isn't Latin and the 3R's" Abbott also quipped.

The Labour Party supports imposing a minimum price for alcohol, she said. She added that she thought the price level should match Scotland, "otherwise you'll get smuggling across the border".

She admitted that Labour "could have done more about mental health" in government. "Mental health is often missing from public health debates even though it's critical to wellbeing" she added.

She said it was "too easy for GPs to hand out drugs", and that "families are part of the solution to engaging growing problem of children in mental health".

When talking about her family and upbringing, she admitted: "I diligently drank Guinness throughout pregnancy as that is what i understood pregnant women drank"

She also voiced her support for Claire Perry's campaign to regulate online porn.

"Even if the move protected [only] most children from most porn online. I believe and the Labour Party believe in an opt-in solution to protect them from these degrading images...when children old enough to press a button can access it"