Wales politics

Call for healthy eating rules for nurseries and care homes

Child with pizza Image copyright Thinkstock

Setting standards for healthy eating in nurseries and care homes can help the fight against obesity, AMs have heard.

Dr Stephen Monaghan of the British Medical Association (BMA) told the health committee that existing guidance on hospital food should be set in law.

He added that the Well-Being of Future Generations Bill was a "potential platform" for joint work on health.

But he warned that "many of the levers" on obesity, such as food advertising, were outside the assembly's control.

The health committee was taking evidence on Thursday on the re-introduced Public Health Bill, which includes plans to extend the smoking ban to some open-air public places, and tighten regulation on tattooists and piercing parlours.

Dr Monaghan said many people saw obesity as "the new smoking" as a determinant of health and "probably one of the biggest challenges we face".

Saying the BMA wanted to focus on things within the assembly's power, he highlighted the "early years setting" and care homes where healthy eating standards could be enforced.

"We've also suggested that the hospital in-patient nutritional standards could be placed on a statutory footing, not simply as guidance as they currently are," he added.

Image caption Measures to save the planet can also tackle obesity, says Dr Stephen Monaghan

The Well-Being of Future Generations bill was a "potential platform" for public organisations to work together on obesity, Dr Monaghan said, "which individually might be small but collectively might amount to something meaningful".

"Many of the determinants of the big issue about carbon and climate change are very similar to the issues about obesity," he said.

"Things like public transport ... some of the things that would help with obesity are the same things that would help with reducing carbon."

Dr Rebecca Payne of the Royal College of General Practitioners said she would support the idea of measures to tackle obesity.

But she warned against adding more amendments to the bill, mindful of the row over e-cigarettes which led to the collapse of a previous public health bill in March.

"We want to see the bill go through this time, and are more concerned to get this bill on the statute books than have an absolutely perfect one which is then put at risk," she said.

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