MAKE no mistake, obesity levels are at crisis point in this country.  

Nearly two thirds of adults in Wales are currently overweight or obese. 

Adults are unhealthier than ever before, and children are no different. As weight increases, life expectancy decreases and puts significant pressures on our NHS with people becoming sicker, frailer and they require more attention from GPs and hospitals. 

We saw from the pandemic the impact weight can have on people’s chances of fighting the virus, with more than half of critical care admissions in Wales having a BMI of over 30. 

For these simple reasons, it is important that children are protected from damaging products. Energy drinks and fast foods can be appealing to younger people, and bad habits started in childhood can follow people throughout their entire lives. 

READ MORE: Wales could ban energy drinks for under-16s to curb obesity

Let’s look at some figures. The treatment time of patients in hospitals is 60 per cent longer than it is in England, and the average waiting time for treatment referral in Wales is now 24 weeks compared to 13 in England. One in five people in Wales are a on a waiting list, compared to one in 20 in England.  

So, whilst I welcome steps to tackle the obesity crisis, it does feel as though Labour have forgotten that they have been in power in Wales for the last 23 years where they’ve had plenty of time to do something about the problem and have failed to. In fact, their entire health strategy has been a disaster. 

Back in March we held a debate in the Senedd calling for the Labour Government to kickstart weight management services in the NHS, something that had been put on hold during the pandemic.  

Sadly, this is something Labour have refused to do. 

The Minister in charge said that delivery of plans had “began in earnest” but that the pandemic “fundamentally changed the course” of that delivery. And then in good old typical Labour style, they just asked the Senedd to “acknowledge” the production of another strategy instead of taking direct action like we proposed.  

This state of affairs is completely unacceptable, and as a recent Welsh Conservative debate on reforming the failing Betsi Cadwaladr health board showed, Labour only care about party politics rather than the health of our nation.  

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As a result, the health service aspect of the Welsh Government’s ‘multi-pronged’ approach will sadly be lacking due to Labour mismanagement. NHS services across the board are under real pressure, with little sign of improving under Minister Eluned Morgan. 

In reality, the location of fast food outlets goes through local council planning committees, most of which in Wales are run by Labour administrations. Why haven’t they done more? 

It’s also clear that we need to empower people to make good decisions about food and drink. When people are equipped with the knowledge to improve their own personal situations, I believe that they will do so. This is another part of what should be an overarching strategy, and citizens taking personal responsibility can make a huge different to their personal outcomes.  

With the severe pressure that the NHS is under, I am sceptical that we will see the relevant steps taken to crack down on obesity. 

We get plenty of talk from Labour Ministers – but talk is cheap. The children of Wales need effective action.  

James Evans MS is the Welsh Conservative shadow minister for mental health, wellbeing and mid Wales.

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