The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) contains new measures to improve wellbeing, underpinned by a focus on prevention rather than cure. Obesity and poor diet are linked with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased risk of respiratory, musculoskeletal and liver diseases. The NHS has committed to double the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme over the next five years. In addition, nutrition training, and an understanding of what is involved in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, will have a much greater place in training for medical professionals, empowering doctors to help patients manage their diet and weight.
Legislation to introduce mandatory calorie labelling for restaurants, cafes, and takeaways across England is also being considered as a way to ensure families know how much they and their children are eating when out. I am very much in support of new measures to improve understanding about the importance of a balanced, healthy diet, and will continue to follow this matter closely.
In April 2018, a Soft Drinks Industry Levy was introduced, following a two-year transition period which gave producers the option to reduce the sugar in their drinks in order to avoid this new taxation. I am pleased that this has already yielded results, with sugar levels per 100ml falling by 11 per cent between 2015 and 2017 across those products which were to be subject to the levy.
With non-diet energy drinks containing on average 60 per cent more calories than regular soft drinks, I welcome plans to ban their sale to children. A public consultation has been launched to consider whether restrictions on their sale should apply to those aged under 16 or under 18, and whether the law should be changed to prevent children from buying them in any situation.