MORE THAN 10 years after the unedifying sight of parents selling chips, burgers and other take-away food to children through the railings of a Rotherham school that was trying to introduce healthier lunchtime meals, politicians do appear, belatedly, to be recognising the scale of the childhood obesity epidemic.
Even though the 2012 London Olympics was supposed to transform attitudes towards public health, the NHS is struggling to cope with the record number of people – including young children – who are overweight because of a bad diet and insufficient exercise.
The sadness is that it has taken 12 years from the parental antics witnessed at Rotherham’s Rawmarsh School for senior politicians to accept that obesity is one of the greatest health challenges of our time and is weighing down the NHS.
With all Opposition leaders joining forces to call for 13 measures, including an end to buy-one-get-one-free junk food meals and a 9pm watershed for junk food advertising on TV, and pledging to co-operate with the Government, Ministers should be acknowledging this unanimity as Theresa May finalises her own policy strategy,
Of course, there are many issues – notably Brexit and immigration – that divide the major parties and will continue to do so. That’s inevitable. But on other matters, like public health, too much time has been already been wasted, and too many youngsters have become obese, because of the default tendency of politicians to focus on their differences rather than policy areas where there’s substantive agreement.
If this mindset changes, political debate will become healthier – and so, too, will the health of the nation.