Yesterday in Parliament Nigel Huddleston MP spoke as part of a debate on the Childhood Obesity Strategy.
The debate called on the Government to ‘bring forward a bold and effective strategy to tackle childhood obesity’.
Speaking in the debate, Nigel recognised that even for those “who are generally instinctively against Government interference and taxation, and want small government” there was a need to “balance out these freedoms with doing the right thing by our children”.
Nigel’s speech broadly covered three areas, marketing, school meals and physical activity.
On food marketing, Nigel said:
· “Research tells us that children as young as 18 months can be influenced and are capable of recognising brands, which is a truly astounding fact.”
· “The latest Ofcom figures show that two thirds of children watch television during what is considered adult airtime, with peak viewing for children between 7 pm and 8 pm.”
· “The British Heart Foundation found last year that during just one episode of “The X Factor”, a programme that is quite popular with children, there were no fewer than 13 junk food adverts.”
On school meals, he said:
· “Those of us who visit schools look on with envy at the school meals now compared with the ones that many of us had to suffer years ago. Yet in many schools up and down the country, we have the farcical situation where lunches provided by schools are generally very healthy, but the food children themselves bring into schools, or is provided by their parents, is often not healthy.”
· “We need more co-operation between schools, and between parents and teachers. I back the [Health] Committee’s proposal that nutritional guidelines should be published for packed lunches and that, where necessary, teachers should be able to have, perhaps robust, conversations with parents so that these guidelines are followed.”
On physical activity, he said:
· “I am blessed to represent a primarily rural constituency. It is very easy for me and my family to get outdoors, to go on bike rides, and to go on public pathways. I am well aware that not everybody in the country has those privileges. Councils and local government need to do much more to enable access to healthy outdoor living and sports facilities. Planning plays a part in this too. When I see planning proposals for housing developments, I find it remarkable how little provision there is for recreational facilities, or indeed access to countryside.”
· “We must recognise and praise the fact that up and down the country there are some great experiments going on, with schools practising innovative ways to encourage physical activity. For example, Commando Joe’s goes into schools and encourages team building and physical activity. I give credit to Bengeworth academy in Evesham in my constituency where we have our own Commando Joe—a gentleman called Chris Parry who works alongside staff and children having previously done four tours of Afghanistan with the Marines. He is doing great work, and long may that continue.”
Read Nigel’s speech in full at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160121/debtext/160121-0003.htm#160121-0003.htm_spnew2.