Health Select Committee Publishes Physical Activity and Diet Report

On Wednesday 25 March 2015 the Health Select Committee, of which Valerie Vaz MP is a member, published their report into The Impact of Physical Activity and Diet on Health.

Valerie Vaz MP said:

“The Committee recommended that the next Government prioritises prevention, health promotion and early intervention to tackle health inequalities and avoidable harm resulting from poor diet and physical inactivity. This will require action at all levels including from the Government, the NHS and local authorities.”

“Local authorities are key to improving public health. The Committee expressed concerns that the current financial pressure on local authorities could lead to all but the mandated public health services to be deprioritised. This would have a detrimental effect on prevention and health improvements.”

“The Committee has called on the next Government to work across departments and arm-length bodies and has recommended a strategy which could include elements of public education, regulation, fiscal measures, legislation, messaging and campaigns, evidence based behavioural change, changes to the school curriculum, and changes to planning arrangements.”

“One way to improve diets and reduce obesity could be through a tax on sugar. The Committee heard evidence from Professor Nick Wareham who cited the Sugar Tax that was used in Mexico. A 10% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages has led to a 10% reduction of their consumption. Public Health England has conducted a review of the evidence on introducing a sugar tax which will be published at the end of the year. There is also the option to introduce subsidies for healthy foods.”

“One area of progress following an EU directive has been the introduction of a traffic light nutrition labelling system. It is estimated that two-thirds of products will carry the scheme over the next few months. The Committee recommended that Public Health England backs the initial progress with a campaign to explain and reinforce this scheme to help more people make healthy food choices.”

“A key measure is for people to increase their physical activity and improve their diet. The Committee found that 78% of people do not meet the recommended levels of exercise of 20 minutes a day which recent research has shown is just as effective in 10 minute blocks. The Committee concluded that there needs to be far greater emphasis on the benefits of physical activity and that this is independent of issues such as obesity. Physical activity in its own right has huge health benefits and this needs to be clearly communicated.”

The Health Select Committees report into The Impact of Physical Activity and Diet on Health is available to read here: