SNP's obesity blitz fails to promote vital PE, say Labour
THE government's new obesity reduction strategy fails to include a firm commitment to physical education for school children, Labour said yesterday.
Dr Richard Simpson, the party's public health spokesman, said it was "not good enough" during a parliamentary debate on the Preventing Obesity in Scotland plan.
He said PE targets of two hours a week for school pupils were set by the previous executive "but the progress is really very slow".
He said: "I'm not going to indulge in attacks on this executive for its failures, but to say that they set themselves up with targets and therefore they have got to be responsible for those targets."
Dr Simpson said he expected "that there would have been a much firmer commitment to the two hours of physical education contained in this document" because it was jointly presented with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
Dr Simpson said it was necessary to recognise that tackling obesity "is going to be a long-term effort, it is not going to turn around overnight".
Public Health Minister Shona Robison agreed that more progress needed to be made on meeting her party's manifesto pledge on physical education.
She told the chamber that both the SNP and the previous government had each spent three years trying to deliver the PE target.
"Therefore, there should be an appreciation of some of the challenges around that, given that by 2007 only 5 per cent of primary schools had actually achieved the two hours of PE," she said.
"We're up to 33 per cent now but I absolutely acknowledge that more progress has to be made."
Ms Robison launched the government's Preventing Overweight and obesity in Scotland: a route map towards a healthy weight during a visit to a Glasgow school on Monday.
Yesterday, she revealed there would be no "additional resources" to implement the route map, which spells out thinking on obesity for the benefit of local and central government departments.
She told the chamber that obesity was associated "with at least as much ill health as poverty, smoking and problem drinking".
Ms Robison said women during pregnancy and a healthy working environment were the two key targets of the route map.
Liberal Democrat Ross Finnie told MSPs that reducing the number of children with an unhealthy body mass index (BMI) should be a priority.
Two-thirds of adults and a third of children are not "getting anywhere close" to meeting national targets for physical activity, which must also be addressed, Mr Finnie said.
He warned Ms Robison that she ran the risk of being characterised as a "latter-day dinner monitor" after recent coverage of portion control of meals.
"I'm sure she would be a very good dinner monitor," Mr Finnie said. "But I'm not entirely sure that that is the image that our Minister for Public Health would wish to portray."
Tory health spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said the party will support all measures to tackle obesity. But she said: "Any action plan or strategy must include those seeking help with weight management problems."
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