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Weekly diabetes parliamentary round-up

House of Commons Questions

School Milk – DH – Lucy Powell

Thu, 30 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the role of school and nursery milk in the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan.

Asked by Lucy Powell (Manchester Central) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment he has made of the role of school and nursery milk in supporting the health of children in deprived communities.

Answered by: Nicola Blackwood Answered on: 30 March 2017

Where the school food standards apply, milk must be available during school hours and offered free to disadvantaged pupils, and free milk is also available to infants if served as part of their lunch.

As part of the Childhood Obesity Plan, the Government will publish and promote example menus for early year’s settings in England later this year. This will help settings to meet the latest Government dietary recommendations, including the consumption of milk and dairy products.


Health: Children – DH – Jonathan Ashworth

Thu, 30 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what data his Department and its agencies collect on the effect of childhood health on later life chances.

Answered by: Nicola Blackwood Answered on: 30 March 2017

Public Health England (PHE) track a number of indicators concerning health, wellbeing and behavioural and cognitive outcomes associated with life chances. This is via the Public Health Outcomes Framework and other profiles, in particular the child health profiles and the early years profiles.

These indicators include background factors, such as children in low income families, risk factors, (for example low birthweight at term), and protective factors including breastfeeding initiation. PHE also collect data on early years outcomes via the Ages and Stages questionnaire as well as later childhood outcomes.

There are also indicators on obesity, namely excess weight in four-five and 10-11 year olds. In terms of childhood health and life chances, obese children and adolescents are at an increased risk of developing various health problems (both physical and emotional /psychological), and are also more likely to become obese adults.

In addition, the Department funds longitudinal studies such as the millennium cohort study to track children through childhood and is supporting the roll-out of Routine Enquiry into Adverse Childhood Experiences. This will encourage people to disclose childhood adversity, which can lead to them getting the help they need sooner.


Department of Health – DH – Nic Dakin

Fri, 24 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Nic Dakin (Scunthorpe) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether he plans to launch the Daily Mile nationwide in England.

Answered by: Nicola Blackwood Answered on: 24 March 2017

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that all children aged five-18 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

The Government published a Childhood Obesity Plan for Action in August 2016, which can be accessed here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/childhood-obesity-a-plan-for-action

This plan states that for all primary school children, at least 30 minutes of physical activity should be delivered in school every day through active break times, Physical Education, extra curricular clubs, active lessons or other sport and physical activity events. Schools have the freedom to decide how to meet this expectation and which programmes, such as The Daily Mile, they choose to adopt.


Primary Education: Sports – DfE – Mr Jim Cunningham

Mon, 27 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate her Department has made of the proportion of primary school children who do not receive a minimum of two hours of sport and PE activity each week; and if she will make a statement.

Answered by: Edward Timpson Answered on: 27 March 2017

The Department does not hold that information, as the Government does not set a target for how much curriculum time schools must dedicate to Physical Education (PE) or specify the sports and activities that must be taught in schools.

PE remains a compulsory subject at all four key stages in the national curriculum, and we have given schools the freedom to deliver a diverse and challenging PE curriculum that best suits the needs of their pupils.

The Chief Medical Officer has stated that children should be active for 60 minutes a day (of which 30 minutes should be during school time), and we are supporting this through a number of initiatives, including the primary PE and sport premium.

Since 2013, we have invested over £600 million to improve PE and school sport in primary schools through the primary PE and sport premium. In an independent evaluation, 84% of schools reported an increase in pupil engagement in PE during curricular time and in the levels of participation in extra-curricular activities. Research has also shown that primary schools are on average now delivering almost two hours of PE to pupils each week since the introduction of the premium.

But we know there is more to do, which is why we will also be doubling the premium from £160m to £320m per year from September 2017, using money raised by the sugar soft drinks industry levy.


Soft Drinks: Taxation – HM Treasury – Dr Sarah Wollaston

Fri, 24 March 2017 | House of Commons – Written Answer

Asked by Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has assessed the potential merits of using money raised through the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to extend the free school meals scheme to (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries; and if he will make a statement.

Asked by Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes) To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of using money raised from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy to support (a) nursery schools and (b) private nurseries in accessing the Children’s Food Trust accreditation scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by: Jane Ellison Answered on: 24 March 2017 The Government has already confirmed that, in England, we will invest the £1 billion revenue we originally forecast from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy during this parliament in giving school-aged children a better and healthier future, including through doubling the primary school PE and sport premium and expanding school breakfast clubs. The Secretary of State for Education recently set out further details on this, including £415m for a new healthy pupils capital programme. The Department for Education will set out more detail in due course. Grouped Questions: 68234


MPs debate Preventing Avoidable Sight Loss

Tue, 28 March 2017 | Debate – Adjournment and General

NHS England had opted to allow vision services to be planned and delivered on a local rather than a national basis, MPs heard today.

Responding to a debate on preventing avoidable sight loss, Community Health and Care Minister David Mowat declared it “unacceptable” that 20 people a month were losing their sight due to preventable causes, and said that “we need to work collectively to address it”.

He also acknowledged the pressing character of this issue given the increasing elderly proportion of the population, discussing the significance of improving quality of life for the UK’s expanding population of seniors.

He pointed to the significance of other lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, and noted the importance of the upcoming Tobacco Control Strategy, which would feature specific targets by age group, as well as the existing Obesity Strategy.

Mr Mowat welcomed the impact of the new diabetic eye disease screening programme, which had resulted in “significant progress” in preventing this problem. When it came to other causes, including cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, he also referenced the significance of free sight tests at school and for elderly or high-risk populations.

The minister emphasised that treatment was led by CCGs, and noted significant regional disparities which he said suggested local commissioners in areas with particularly high levels of preventable sight loss ought to take action. He flagged the Public Health Outcomes Framework as a good guide in this respect.

Mr Mowat said that NICE guidelines must militate against any rationing of treatment, and promised to investigate why CCGs were not requiring opticians to refer patients to GPs, who would in turn refer onwards to hospitals and opthalmologists.

Discussing Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), he defended the fact that they did not all address avoidable sight loss by describing them as “a process, not an event”, and called on interested parties to continue lobbying local health leaders.

He also said that the same principles on waiting lists should apply to eye appointments as in other areas of NHS care.

Addressing calls for an eye strategy, he argued that this would not be a “panacea”, as shown by experience in Northern Ireland. “My preference is to work with NHS England and with Health Education England, if it is a question of getting more people into roles and all that goes with that”, he commented.

Responding for the Opposition, Shadow Community Health Minister Julie Cooper declared herself “shocked” at the lack of a national sight loss strategy, and called for health professionals to get better access to data; for local service provision; and for an emphasis on prevention. She also declared that STPs represented an “exciting opportunity” to address these issues.

Opening the debate, Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani highlighted her work on the APPG on Eye Health and Visual Impairment, as supported by the RNIB, and noted the statistic that half of sight loss could potentially be avoided.

She complained about the treatment of an individual who had initially been unable to secure the urgent medical attention she needed to preserve her sight, and lamented that NHS England “does not give eye health the profile it deserves”. She pointed out that sight loss was not subject to an NHS England strategy like those in place for hearing loss and dementia, and also expressed regret that the issue was not referenced in STPs.

She called for some “small changes to guidelines and legislation” such as allowing orthoptists to sign hospital eye service spectacle prescriptions, and pointed to the need for screening of children and efficient referral processes.


Health Committee – Government is missing important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity

Mon, 27 March 2017 | Commons Select Committee Press Release

27 March 2017

The Government needs to take more robust action to tackle the impact of deep discounting and price promotions on the sales of unhealthy food and drink, says the Health Committee in its follow up report into childhood obesity.

Given the amount of our food and drink that is purchased on discounts and promotions, the Committee is urging the Government to follow the evidence-based advice to create “a level playing field”. It was Industry representatives themselves, when giving evidence to the Committee, who explained that the current Government plans risk being undermined unless there is regulation. Retailers who act responsibly on discounting and promotions should not be put at a competitive disadvantage to those who do not.

The Government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity was published in August 2016. Although the Health Committee welcomes the measures the Government has announced on the sugary drinks levy, they are extremely disappointed that several key areas for action that could have made the strategy more effective have not been included.

Chair of the Health Committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, says:

“We are extremely disappointed that the Government has rejected a number of our recommendations. These omissions mean that the current plan misses important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity. Vague statements about seeing how the current plan turns out are inadequate to the seriousness and urgency of this major public health challenge. The Government must set clear goals for reducing overall levels of childhood obesity as well as goals for reducing the unacceptable and widening levels of inequality.”

The Committee also calls on the Government to ensure that manufacturers pass on the cost of the levy to ensure that there is a price differential at the point of sale between high- and low- or no-sugar drinks. The Committee feels that this would enhance the effect of the levy in encouraging low or no sugar choices and that failure to pass on the levy would result in consumers having to cross subsidise high-sugar products.

The Committee has welcomed the tiered levy and recognises that this has already started to drive reformulation and further recommends that it be extended to include milk-based drinks with added sugar.

The report welcomes the Government’s positive response to the Committee’s recommendation that the proceeds of the soft drinks industry levy should be directed towards measures to improve children’s health including through increasing access to school sports and to breakfast clubs. The Committee will follow up how the income from the levy is distributed, including the ways in which this can help to reduce the inequalities arising from childhood obesity.

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