Our weekly diabetes parliamentary round-up is below. To see the full round-up please click for more at the bottom of the post.
House of Commons Questions
Jim Shannon – Kidney Diseases: Diabetes
Tue, 1 December 2015 | House of Commons – Written Answer
Asked by Jim Shannon (Strangford) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent discussions he has had with the Royal Colleges on the treatment of kidney disease caused by diabetes.
Jane Ellison Answered on: 01 December 2015
There have been no recent discussions with the Royal Colleges on the treatment of kidney disease caused by diabetes.
Grahame Morris – Cardiovascular System: Diseases
Mon, 30 November 2015 | House of Commons – Written Answer
Asked by Grahame Morris (Easington) To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the Answers of 16 November 2015 to Questions 15277 and 15193, what the outputs are from the NHS England expert forum which were originally initiated in the Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy; and what plans the NHS England expert group has for future work on familial hypercholesterolemia.
Jane Ellison Answered on: 30 November 2015
The expert forum – the Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) Collaborative Strategy Group – has representation from key CVD stakeholders including NHS England, Public Health England, Department of Health and third sector organisations such as the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and the National Kidney Federation. It provides leadership to the National Health Service in developing approaches to improve the prevention, early diagnosis and management of CVD as highlighted in the CVD outcomes strategy.
As part of its work, the group is exploring approaches to support the earlier diagnosis of atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, heart failure and valve disease and to improve outcomes from out of hospital cardiac arrest. It is also considering how it can support wider strategic developments arising from the Five Year Forward View, such as the development of seven day services.
In addition, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Heart Disease continues towork with partners on familial hypercholesterolemia (FH). Working with Public Health England, they aim to identify more families with FH and address the importance of cholesterol on general as a risk factor for CVD. The National Clinical Director alsochairs an FH Steering Group, which brings together relevant stakeholders, and supports Strategic Clinical Networks around the country so that good practice can be shared more widely.
Westminster Debates and Legislation
MPs debate a tax on sugary drinks
Mon, 30 November 2015 | Debate – Adjournment and General
“Broad-ranging and concerted action” would be needed to address the problem of childhood obesity as there could be no “silver bullet” solutions, MPs heard today.
Opening a debate on an e-petition concerning proposals for a tax on sugary drinks, Labour Petitions Committee Chair Helen Jones highlighted the parallel issues raised by a Health Committee report on action to tackle child obesity.
“I think we face a real health emergency that is equivalent to an epidemic, and sugar is one of the worst culprits”, she declared, further raising the issue of dental decay. These health problems were costing the NHS around £6bn per annum, which was projected to rise to £10-12bn by 2020.
There was “a great deal of merit” in calls for a tax on sugary drinks, she argued, noting that this would probably have to be set at around 10 to 20 per cent in order to drive behavioural change, according to Public Health England. She added: “We need a much tougher responsibility deal”.
Responding for the Government, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison noted that while obesity rates were “unacceptably high”, they had stabilised somewhat over the past five years. However, there was a particularly notable prevalence gap based on deprivation levels.
She highlighted the “critical juncture” for these issues occasioned during the development of the cross-Government childhood obesity strategy, and declared that the need to improve life chances for deprived children was “certainly a strong strand of my thinking”.
She promised to “look in greater detail at the Select Committee’s report, to further inform our ongoing policy development”.
However, Ms Ellison went on, “it is no secret that the Government have no plans to introduce a tax on sugar, although all taxes are kept under review” by the Chancellor. She argued that there were “no silver bullets” for resolving the situation.
Public Health England had concurred on the lack of a single solution, she claimed. She said its evidence suggested higher prices for “targeted high-sugar products” tended to reduce purchases in the short term. However, the Economist had recently reported that longer-term effects were “as yet unknown”.
Public Health England had recommended a “broad, structured programme of parallel measures across all sectors”, she said.
She indicated her acceptance of the recommendation of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition concerning the correct levels of sugar consumption, and said that the Government was “under no illusion” action needed to be taken given how these levels were routinely exceeded.
She welcomed suggestions for product reformulation, noting that ministers felt this had “a significant role to play”. Major changes had already been made by industry on a voluntary basis, with some confectioners agreeing to cap servings at 250 calories, and supermarkets deciding to move impulse displays at the behest of shoppers. Some companies had also added front-of-pack nutrition labelling, she noted, emphasising her belief in unleashing the power of the consumer.
Ms Ellison also noted that she had challenged charities to raise awareness about the damaging health impact of sugar, and pointed to the role of the Change4Life campaign, which was developing a new “Sugar Smart” campaign to launch in early 2016, including revelations about sugar levels in popular products.
She informed MPs that it would not be possible to mandate labelling in terms of “teaspoons of sugar” contained in a product, as food labelling was determined by the EU – though companies could add this information voluntarily if they complied with the rules and consulted accordingly.
Responding for the Opposition, Shadow Health Minister Barbara Keeley argued that this problem required an answer that took its complexity into account. “The problem goes deeper than the demand side”, she maintained, but Labour was “not yet fully convinced” about the case for a tax. It would be reviewing its policy over the coming months.
Accusing the Government’s responsibility deal of failure, she noted research from academics which cast doubt on progress towards voluntarily removing sugar from products. She criticised the lack of targets or measures of success in the deal.
“It seems that the Prime Minister has ruled out action on sugar”, Ms Keeley observed, inferring that the Government appeared to be “listening to vested interests” instead of experts. She raised comparisons with the tobacco industry’s efforts to argue against legal compulsion.
“I am therefore inclined to think that one of the most effective remedies would be a modest but compulsory reduction in the amount of sugar in soft drinks”, she said. “A fiscal solution such as a sugar tax could well form part of the solution, but the Opposition retain a concern about the impact that extra taxes will have on the pockets of parents”.
Also responding, Conservative Health Committee Chair Dr Sarah Wollaston declared that “brave and bold action is what we need” to address childhood obesity. Discussing her Committee’s report, she said that industry arguments in favour of a simple expansion of education and exercise were unlikely to produce an improvement. “We need to go further”, she said.
She explained that the Health Committee recommended a sugary drinks tax in order to create a price differential with healthier alternatives, and that it believed 20 per cent was the right level. She pointed to experience in Mexico and rejected the notion that this would prove a regressive measure, given that the poor were already disproportionately suffering the effects of overconsumption of such products. Drinks were worth targeting because they were “products with an easy alternative”, she added.
She also argued that the Government’s “responsibility deal” with industry lacked “teeth” and argued that “things worked better when we had the Food Standards Agency and a bit of a stick in the background to make such changes happen”.
Individual Politician Press Releases and Blogs
Emma Reynolds MP – Emma urges government to take bold action to tackle childhood obesity
Mon, 30 November 2015 | MPs Press Release
Emma urges government to take bold action to tackle childhood obesity
The cross-party Health Select Committee in Parliament has today released its report on childhood obesity. The committee has assessed the causes, scale and consequences of childhood obesity and has highlighted nine key areas for improvement. Currently, one fifth of children are overweight or obese when they begin school, with the figure increasing to one third by the time they complete primary school.
Obesity is currently estimated to cost the NHS £5.1 billion every year and is one of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes, which accounts for £8.8 billion a year, almost 9% of the NHS budget.
The report is calling for a tax on sugary soft drinks with all proceeds targeted to help those children at greatest risk of obesity. It is also calling for a whole range of initiatives including strong controls on price promotions and on the marketing and advertising of unhealthy food and drink.
Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East and a member of the House of Commons’ Health Select Committee, is urging the government to take bold action to tackle the rise in childhood obesity.
Emma said: “Obesity is a growing problem in the UK and Wolverhampton. Children in our city suffer from above average levels of obesity. Over a quarter of our five-year-olds, and over 40% of Year 7 pupils are either overweight or obese.
“The government needs to adopt the whole range of initiatives proposed. This includes a sugary drinks tax, controls on promotions and marketing and improved education in schools.
“I believe that a sugary drinks tax should be introduced to influence behaviour and drive positive change, with all proceeds going towards improving the health of children.”
Andrew Stephenson MP – Colne Business joins MP’s campaign to Raise Diabetes Awareness
Fri, 27 November 2015 | MPs Press Release
A Pendle business will be part of a national campaign to raise awareness of World Diabetes Day. Local Member of Parliament Andrew Stephenson recently wrote to several businesses to request that local landmarks be illuminated blue on the evening of the 14th November to raise awareness of this rapidly growing public health problem. XLCR Vehicle Management have agreed to light up their iconic building, XLCR House, which is next to the Post Office on Albert Road in Colne.
Andrew Stephenson MP said: “Diabetes presents a real challenge for the future of our NHS and affect millions across the UK. 19,491 people in East Lancashire have diabetes, 6.6% of all residents. These numbers are growing every day, and 10% of the NHS budget is now spent on this condition. This is why I am so proud that we will be playing our part in Pendle to raise awareness of diabetes by illuminating XLCR House blue for World Diabetes Day, and being featured in the national campaign to raise awareness of this public health menace.”
Christopher Jowett, Executive Assistant at XLCR Vehicle Management said “We would jump at the chance to help contribute to this cause. In fact a long serving member of staff within our Infinity teams has a daughter suffering with diabetes so we recognise that it’s something close to a lot of people’s hearts.”
Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Diabetes, Keith Vaz MP, said: “This year’s World Diabetes Day has been enormously successful in highlighting the dangers of diabetes. I am delighted that Andrew has led such a superb awareness campaign in Pendle. XLCR House in Colne now joins an incredible list of national and global landmarks will be participating in the Blue Monument Challenge, including the London Eye, the Christ the Redeemer statue, Table Mountain in Cape Town and Number 10 Downing Street.”