The Government must prioritise the introduction of “an active lifestyle policy” to help the nation recover from lockdown obesity, a Conservative peer has said.
Former chairman of the British Olympic Association Lord Moynihan said the pandemic had caused “obesity, boredom and poor health” and called for a “major, cross-departmental response” to tackle the issue.
It came as Labour peer Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe suggested the Government should not have frozen alcohol duty in this month’s Budget as it is “a silent contributor to obesity”.
Lord Moynihan, himself a former Olympian, told peers that young people in particular were facing poor physical and mental health at an “unprecedented” level.
Speaking during the Lords debate on the Budget, Lord Moynihan said: “The Government’s road map out of the pandemic notes that exercise and outdoor sports are well documented to reduce risks of major illnesses.
“It also says that physical activity is known to help with increased resistance – improving mental health through better sleep, happier moods and managing stress and anxiety.
“We must build back better and build back more active.
“Only with a national policy for sport and recreation and an active lifestyle for wellbeing in a safe environment have we any chance of tackling obesity, boredom and poor health – both physical and mental health, which in particular faces the young generation to a level unprecedented in this country.
“Only a major, cross-departmental response co-ordinated from the top will work and only when Government prioritises the importance of an active lifestyle policy to the nation will we be properly prepared to deliver a full recovery from this epidemic economically, socially and mentally.”
Lord Brooke told peers: “Why has the Government failed to extend the sugar tax which has been been proven to be so effective?
“Why is the Government still freezing taxes on alcohol when that is a silent contributor to obesity?
“We need to have an approach from the Treasury which starts to take health and health costs into account in all its approaches.
“It needs to give more incentives and disincentives to those that damage people’s health.”