The Government is planning to launch a taskforce to push obesity to the top of the national health agenda, as part of Gordon Brown’s mandate for the next General Election. A date for the election may be announced this week.
The initiative, led by Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson, has already brought on board advertisers to help the Department of Health (DoH) look into how best to promote an “eat sensible, take more exercise” message.
A DoH spokeswoman confirms that there will be a new strategy on health later this autumn, but no details are available as yet.
Johnson signalled his intention to focus on obesity during his first major speech as Health Secretary. He said that children from deprived backgrounds are four times more likely to watch television when they get home from school and twice as likely to drink sugary and fizzy drinks, which is “why obesity is more prevalent in these groups”.
In his speech at the Labour Party conference in Bourne-mouth last month, he said: “The radical steps we have taken on smoking must now be matched by faster progress on tackling obesity in childcare and adults.”
It is thought that when Brown calls an election one of his key issues will be health, wellbeing and obesity – all of which will form part of the reform of the NHS.
The obesity taskforce set up by the DoH is also likely to include the newly formed Department for Children, Schools and Families, which works to ensure that children and young people stay healthy, safe and secure. The department is headed by Ed Balls.