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My noble friend Lord Judd made a number of important points. He is someone whom I have enjoyed working with over many years. He was a fine director of Oxfam, and he is always extremely effective and perceptive in the many roles that he plays. I can assure him that I will be meeting Oxfam in Khartoum on Monday and Saferworld in Juba later in the week. So those two things will be covered. I will also be attending the NGO launch this evening in order to add my thanks for the work that they have been doing. My

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noble friend also asked about UNAMID and protecting civilians. Since UNAMID's inception the UK has contributed more than £100 million to the mission. In March 2009, we contributed a further £1.8 million in discretionary funding for the training and equipping of a Sierra Leonean reconnaissance company which was then deployed to UNAMID.

What is the UK doing to support Darfur? We support the AU-UN Darfur political process through the leadership of the UN. Qatar's vital contribution should be noted as we seek a cessation of hostilities. We welcome the recent report of the AU Panel on Darfur, whose recommendations offer scope for progress on peace, justice and reconciliation. I will be attending the African Union summit in a few weeks' time in Addis and will specifically raise issues on Darfur and Sudan while I am there.

As for the assessment of the operating environment in Darfur, we are aware of the decision by the International Committee of the Red Cross to suspend its activity in Darfur and eastern Chad because of constant attacks on their employees and staff, which are of course deplorable and make it even more difficult for the people of that region. We should realise that, seven years after the crisis began, this is still going on; seven years down the road, people are still living in those camps and are still afraid to go home. The women are still being raped and still being surrounded by militias. I should very much hope that noble Lords will agree that it would be absolutely wrong for us to lose sight of the importance of continuing to focus on what is occurring in Darfur.

There are of course very many small arms moving around Africa, not least in Sudan. The north-south conflict has been responsible for a great deal of that. The borders of Sudan are extremely porous, and weapons are easily available and reasonably cheap for those who wish to purchase them. I welcome the APG hearings which the noble Lord, Lord Alton, mentioned. The Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs and for International Development have written to the APG on this topic, and like the noble Lord, I am sure, I keenly look forward to the group's report.

As for oil production, we are aware of the Global Witness report. Indeed, I read it with interest and noted with deep concern some of the points that it raised. Transparency is extremely important on this matter, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and others have said. We have constantly emphasised the importance of transparency, and I agree that we need to look at the issue of auditing to ensure that all the parties-and this will be a key issue in how the referendum plays-are satisfied that the revenues will be shared fairly. That is one of the most contentious issues to be resolved, as the Chatham House report, which many of your Lordships will soon be seeing, says.

An audit of the oil revenues will be necessary. Oil is critical to both the north and the south, providing 97 per cent of the south's revenue and 44 per cent of the revenue for the Government of national unity. The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is quite right to suggest that the south has not been receiving revenues. There is currently a huge shortfall in the money owed by the

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north to the south, so we need a post-CPA oil-sharing deal. I am receiving notes that I have to finish but I shall just plough on.

On the International Criminal Court and what recent assessment has been made, I reassure your Lordships that we have a long-standing position of support for the work of the ICC as an independent judicial body. We have repeatedly urged the Government of Sudan to co-operate with the ICC. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and to make clear our expectation that all countries should cooperate with the ICC in order to ensure that the particular obligations of states parties can be met. Needless to say, I shall not be meeting President Bashir next week.

I will close here. I think that I have covered points that noble Lords raised later in the debate. I hope that I have covered as many points as possible. I very much value and appreciate the expertise and experience shown by noble Lords in this debate. This House has continuously maintained its interest and support for Sudan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Cox, has played a central role in those efforts.

A great deal remains to be done. We are still struggling to believe that a sustainable peace and development in Sudan are within our grasp, but we have to believe that they are. I agree with the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that this is not a time for pessimism. We have a year, and there is time. If the political will is there, so much can be achieved. There is no time for any grim forebodings. We do not want to hear any of those; the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is absolutely right. There has to be political dialogue and an end to violence. On my many visits to Sudan, I have certainly understood that now really is the time for co-ordinated and urgent action. Above all, the task is to prevent any escalation into further violence, to encourage dialogue and to ensure that peace, security and reconciliation can be enjoyed by the long-suffering people of Sudan.

1.59 pm

Baroness Cox: My Lords, in opening the debate I expressed the hope that it would be a source of encouragement to all those working to promote peace and democracy in Sudan. I believe that every one of your Lordships' contributions, culminating in a very full response from the Minister, have fulfilled that hope. They have all illustrated a great diversity and breadth of experience; expressed the strongest possible support for the peace initiatives; shown a deep commitment to the welfare of people suffering humanitarian crises; and reflected a profound and legitimate concern, because there is no room for complacency. However, we can hope that many of the recommendations made to the international community, along with the leadership of Sudan, will help to sustain the comprehensive peace agreement and promote the peace for which so many have died and for which so many have long yearned. Therefore, I thank every noble Lord who has contributed to this very important debate, as I thank the Minister for her detailed reply and the good news that it contained. We wish her well on her forthcoming visit and ask her to take our good wishes with her to those whom she will meet in Sudan. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion withdrawn.



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Health: Obesity

Debate

2.01 pm

Moved By Lord Pendry

Lord Pendry: My Lords, I am pleased to have secured this debate today, as the level of child obesity is unacceptable and, if current trends continue, it is set to rise even further. However, too often this debate has a negative and hopeless tone to it. The problem is serious, but it is not hopeless. There is plenty of hope. A number of organisations are doing good work, there is record investment in our young people and we are seeing the worrying trends begin to reverse.

Let us be clear about the facts. Too many people in this country are obese and far too high a proportion of them are children. In fact, the National Health Service Information Centre report on obesity published earlier this year found that 30 per cent of girls aged between two and 15, and 31 per cent of boys, are classed as overweight. Of the girls, 16 per cent are obese, while for the boys the figure is 17 per cent. The figures are the result of a steady and worrying increase in recent years. In 1995, only 12 per cent of girls and 10 per cent of boys were obese, which means that there are now around 300,000 more obese girls and roughly 550,000 obese boys.

On top of that, a sad and difficult but none the less true fact to absorb is that these increasing trends tend to be concentrated in less affluent areas, which has led to significant health inequalities over the years. The direct cost to the National Health Service has reached £500 million a year, with a further cost of £2 billion to the wider economy. The Government's worst-case projection of recent trends suggests that 75 per cent of the population could be suffering the ill effects of excess weight within 15 years, with spiralling annual costs. Thankfully, these projections have been downgraded recently, but the threat remains.

Obviously there are significant health risks associated with obesity, which can begin at a young age. They include heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and mental health problems-mental health disorders now affect 10 per cent of all 10 to 16 year-olds. Worryingly, we have also seen a big increase in the number of young people suffering from type 2 diabetes, despite its normal association with adults. In order to do something about rising obesity levels and to prevent the problems that I have described, we have to go back to basics and ask ourselves why so many children are obese today. There is no great mystery about it: too many children take too little exercise and eat too much junk food.

Let us take diet first. An average of only 21 per cent of boys and girls consume the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day, despite the fact that 65 to 70 per cent know that five a day is what they should be aiming for. Similarly, with physical activity, nearly 30 per cent of boys and 40 per cent of

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girls are unlikely to take the recommended amount of exercise, despite the fact that they know, and their parents should know, that it is good for them.

It would be easy to despair at these figures and paint a picture of doom for the future, but it is not my intention to do that. I am perhaps more positive than many on this issue. It is very important to note that, although the figures for a good diet and plenty of physical activity remain too low, they are increasing all the time. For example, the 20 per cent of children now eating their five a day represents an increase of 10 per cent since 2001. That is good progress, because, as we all know, behaviour takes a long time to change.

Similarly, it would be easy to despair at the worrying lack of fitness among our young people. A report entitled Nature, Childhood, Health and Life Pathways was published in December 2009 by the University of Essex. The team found that aerobic fitness in English children is lower than the global average. However, that is not all; in fact, it is declining by 1 per cent a year, which is twice the global average. All the research behind the report suggests that in 1998 the average 10 year-old could beat in a fitness test 95 per cent of children of the same age in 2008. The report goes on to give specific examples as to why this is and why fitness and physical activity are not necessarily an integral part of our culture or mindset. In the east of England, for example, the study found very low levels of cycling among young people despite the fact that the region, as we know, is flat, relatively dry and has a mild climate. Only around 7 per cent of boys and 2 per cent of girls cycle to school. The report calculates that a small change in culture, so that children who are currently being driven to school cycled instead, would lead to a substantial increase in fitness and have the added bonus of a 70,000 tonne annual reduction in carbon emissions.

However, as with diet and nutrition, I am not going to paint a picture of despair. Some fantastic work is going on at all levels-by national and local government, in schools and through the national governing bodies of sport-that seeks to revolutionise the country's approach to physical activity. That is a source of great hope to me and, I hope, to other Members of the House and it will form the focus of the rest of my speech.

Members of the House will know that I have strong links with sport and recreation through various sports organisations and their umbrella body, the CCPR, and through my chairmanship of the All-Party Parliamentary Sports Group. I take great interest in these issues and I can say through my experience that more emphasis than ever before is being put on physical activity for young people by the Government, schools, PCTs and sports organisations. That is having a big impact on the ground and gives us hope for the future.

The benefits of physical activity are well documented and can be crucial in tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, improving education and fostering community cohesion. However, as we are talking about obesity, it is in health that the benefits of physical activity can really be seen in the young. That is underpinned by the fact that people involved in sport and physical activity are 20 to 30 per cent less likely to die prematurely and

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up to 50 per cent less likely to develop major chronic medical conditions. The World Health Organisation argues that positive and early exposure to physical activity can have a significant impact on healthy lifestyles for young people and therefore influence the choices that they make when they transfer to a less structured environment. Physical activity at a young age also provides key health interventions at an age when they can last. These interventions lead to lasting improvements in bones, muscles, joints, the heart, lungs, co-ordination and movement control and obviously to maintaining a healthy body weight.

As the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation states, physical activity is,

This is not a policy position or an opinion; it is merely part of the argument over the benefits of physical activity. That argument has been won and recognised by the Government. In adopting the Department of Health's Be Healthy, Be Active physical activity action plan, the Secretary of State celebrated the difference that physical activity makes to people's lives. He set a target for the UK to rise from 21st to fourth in the international physical activity table and pledged to hold regular ministerial summits on the issue in recognition of the cross-departmental benefits of physical activity. Of course, there is also the target of ensuring that young people are able to do at least five hours of organised physical activity per week-known as the 5 Hour Offer-which is as bold as it is necessary.

Staying with government initiatives, I believe that the Change4Life scheme is starting to make a big impact. If it is afforded the right support and time to become truly established, this impact will widen. Launched last January, the scheme's aim is to tackle the unhelpful habits that our way of life has caused many of us to fall into, by encouraging small changes in the way in which we eat and move, with the ultimate aim of allowing us to live better and longer lives. The scheme, which was launched through a series of targeted TV adverts, provides easy guides for parents wondering what to feed their children and how to get them moving; it even allows parents to plan active rather than sedentary family holidays. It also lets parents know what physical activity events are taking place in their areas, with Bike4Life, Swim4Life and Walk4Life events planned all over the country.

The Change4Life initiatives have inspired other, more specifically local schemes, such as one in Manchester, which as noble Lords may know is close to my heart. A sub-brand of Change4Life has been developed and will be launched this month as Points4Life. Developed by Manchester City Council and surrounding district councils, this is a loyalty scheme like a Tesco or Sainsbury's club card. It is designed to ensure that participants can have free access to leisure centres or purchase sports equipment. With the right support, this scheme can provide an enormous incentive for people to make small but necessary changes in their lifestyles.

The emphasis placed on physical activity by the Government is crucial in driving the agenda forward. However, despite the potential impact of things like

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Change4Life and the 5 Hour Offer, they are not delivered at the snap of a finger. It takes drive, determination and partnership on the ground, where the difference is really made. It is worth mentioning organisations that have done this best. The Youth Sport Trust is a central part of the offer. As schools present a unique opportunity in terms of time, facilities and supervision of young people and physical activity, the trust has worked individually and collectively with more than 500 schools across the country to improve physical activity provision for pupils. Together they are doing a great job and are reversing trends that have been embedded over a number of years.

It is right that we recognise that 93 per cent of young people took part in at least two hours of PE in 2007-08, up from 82 per cent in 2005-06. They have been helped by a number of institutions, which have attained sports college status. Those have been shown by government surveys between 2005 and 2008 to have had a very positive impact on the frequency of physical activity and on the health of pupils. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has acknowledged that the combined efforts of government, schools and the Youth Sport Trust have led to young people in this country doing more physical activity in schools than young people in many other countries do. This represents major progress.

The governing bodies of sports have also done great work in increasing the level of physical activity among young people. New initiatives have taken root in communities all over the country and are making a big impact. For example, the free swimming initiative is a £140 million programme driven by the Amateur Swimming Association and supported by central and local government. The British Cycling Skyride days are popping up all over the country, with 65,000 people taking part in the London ride in September. Cricket's Chance to Shine initiative, a £50 million programme to get cricket back into schools, led to nearly 250,000 young people playing cricket in 2,082 schools, with 56,000 coaching hours provided. England Netball is placing great emphasis on getting young people to play the sport again. This is great for girls, for whom this is one of the most popular activities, but it also ensures that many boys are playing netball. The Rugby Football Union's Go Play Rugby scheme focuses on player recruitment and retention. It provides local rugby events, training days and links to local clubs. There is also a reward system, which provides incentives for new players to get their friends involved.

Football is also playing its part through the auspices of the Football Foundation, of which I am president. For example, Brighton and Hove Albion last year received more than £113,000 for a healthy living project. Notts County received more than £222,000 over three years for a similar project. The Premier League and the Professional Footballers' Association's community fund has granted Middlesbrough FC £300,000 to help youngsters with healthy activities and Sunderland £270,000 to tackle obesity.

These are only a handful of examples, but there are many more across the whole range of sports and activities. It is laudable work and it adds great value to what is going on in schools. The work by schools and

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governing bodies has been consolidated further by the excellent work of a number of outside organisations, which we should also celebrate. The StreetGames organisation, for example, provides physical activity opportunities in deprived communities that lack facilities and in which childhood obesity is heavily concentrated. It brings the chance to be active to the doorstep and at the same time fosters a sense of togetherness and community pride. According to the legal firm KKP, which undertook an assessment of StreetGames programmes, there is growing evidence of their,

Because of the time, I will not go on to talk about some of the other developments that are taking place. Although childhood obesity remains too high, I hope that I have painted an optimistic picture for the future. There is more investment and more emphasis on physical activity than ever before; people are working with drive and expertise to provide new and constantly improving physical activity opportunities for the young people of this country. If we support this work properly and allow it to flourish, the worrying rise in childhood obesity can be reversed and this country will be much better off for it.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on managing to make his speech in spite of his obvious difficulty because of his heavy cold. Other noble Lords will not get such laxity.

2.21 pm

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, there is only one cause of obesity and that is taking in more calories than you use up. For a normal active child on a healthy diet there is really no problem about obesity-the difficulty arises when they either eat too many calories or use up too few, or perhaps both. My noble friend Lord Addington will talk about the issue of sport and exercise and their role in using up calories and strengthening the heart. So, apart from recommending dancing as a very enjoyable and fashionable way of taking exercise in these days of the popularity of "Strictly", I am going to concentrate on one of my favourite topics: food.

I love food. Indeed, I would die without it. I like to grow it, pick it, cook it, eat it and socialise with it. I certainly like to know as much as possible about what is in the food that I do not grow myself and how it was produced. I have a great aversion to factory-farmed meat with all its animal health issues and to battery hens and eggs. I have also found that children are fascinated by growing and picking food and then, of course, eating it. However, one of the main causes of child obesity these days is that their parents do not cook, so they eat a lot of fast food or processed food. Then you really do not know what is in it; there is often too much salt, too much sugar, too many additives or preservatives and too many calories. But when you cook your own food you know exactly what is in it. You can have a wonderful school meals service, and I will say more about that later, but if the parents

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cannot or will not cook at home, school meals are only taking care of a minor, though important, portion of the child's diet, although the advent of breakfast clubs has increased that proportion.

Having been brought up in a household where my mother cooked and then taught me, I find it sad that there are many young parents who did not have that advantage and did not learn to cook at school, since for many years it was not taught. Indeed, many schools simply did not have the facilities, and then we had a subject on the curriculum called Food Design and Technology which had more to do with processing, packaging and labelling than with real food. However, these days cooking has become part of the entertainment industry so, even if you did not learn at school, you can hardly fail to see cooking done on TV. How many cookery programmes are there, and what proportion of books and magazines are devoted to it? Cookery books have become bedtime reading, but I sometimes doubt how much of their contents land up on the plate. But I wonder what other leisure activity saves you money, improves your health and extends your life.


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