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Obesity: Health Education

Question for Department for Education

UIN 27514, tabled on 10 March 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to raise awareness of the health risks of obesity among schoolchildren.

Answered on

18 March 2020

Childhood obesity is a significant health challenge for this generation, and tackling it is an important priority for the Government. Our cross-Government childhood obesity plan, launched in 2016, represents the start of a long journey and focuses on the actions that are likely to have the biggest impact.

Many policies of the Department for Education, which complement those of other Departments, are expected to make a direct contribution to reducing the incidence of childhood obesity. These include free school meals, the school food standards, the addition of food education in the national curriculum, and the primary physical education (PE) and sport premium. The healthy schools rating scheme celebrates the positive actions that schools are delivering in terms of healthy living, healthy eating and physical activity, and supports schools in identifying further actions that they can take in this area.

In addition, the new subject of health education which will be taught to all pupils in state-funded schools from September 2020, alongside relationships education (for primary aged pupils) and relationships and sex education (secondary aged pupils) covers the issue of healthy eating. Pupils will learn about the characteristics of a poor diet and risks associated with unhealthy eating (including, for example, obesity and tooth decay) and other behaviours (e.g. the impact of alcohol on diet or health).

The Department will publish an updated school and sport activity plan following the Comprehensive Spending Review and will consider what more can be done to promote physical activity. Ahead of that, the Budget has confirmed that £90 million will be provided over the next four years to support primary school PE teaching and help schools make best use of their sports facilities.