Don Foster MP*


New research released by Don today showed that the post-Easter bulge has added 12 million kilos onto the nation's scales.

Main ImageCommenting, Don said:

"Easter eggs have added the equivalent of 80,000 sumo wrestlers to the nation's weigh-in.

"Every Briton will need to cycle for almost three and a half hours to burn off their Easter-binge bulge.

"That's more than what the Government describes as an 'active' person's weekly exercise. And yet the Government's attempts to get us fitter are melting away like chocolate in the spring sunshine."

Further Liberal Democrat research has highlighted the chaos caused by the Sports' Minister's determination to stick to a widely discredited physical activity target.

"The Government's target shambles is undermining nationwide efforts to tackle inactivity. On current progress, the Government's benchmark for 'reasonable activity' will not be achieved by the whole nation until 2072.

"Research shows that festive season weight gain is seldom shed. We need urgent action to get the nation active if this year's Easter egg bulge is not to last a lifetime."


Notes to Editors

1. Easter Chocolate Binge

We eat 80 million Easter eggs each year in this country, nearly all during the Easter period. [Chocs Away, the chocolate lovers' society,].

2. Calories and Weight Gain

The average Easter egg contains 1049 calories and has the potential weight gain equivalent to 150 grams.

Calories in Easter Eggs
Calorie content
Aero Easter Egg (1 pack/212g) 1109

Chocolate Buttons Easter Egg (1pack/105g) 557

Chocolate Orange Easter Egg (1 pack/222g) 1017

Cadbury's Caramel Easter Egg (1 pack/222g) 1132

Cadbury's Creme Egg Easter Egg (1 pack/200g) 990

Crunchie Easter Egg (1 pack/200g) 1010

Cadbury's Dairy Milk Easter Egg (1 pack/218g) 1155

Cadbury's Flake Easter Egg (1 pack/185g) 980

Cadbury's Heroes Easter Egg (1 pack/200g) 1040

Kit Kat Easter Egg (1 pack/245g) 1279

Quality Street Easter Egg (1 pack/206g) 1032

Rolo Easter Egg (1 pack/249g) 1245

Cadbury's Roses Easter Egg (1 pack/202g) 1040

Smarties Easter Egg (1 pack/220g) 1096

Average 1048.71

In order to gain 1kg of weight, you must consume an extra 7,000 calories on top of your daily requirement. Eating one Easter egg [1049 calories] - assuming diet and calories burnt do not otherwise change - will lead to a weight gain of 150 grams.

3. Seasonal Weight Gain Hard to Shift

Research conducted by the U.S. Government shows that the weight gain over festive periods is seldom shed. It shows that seasonal weight gain may be a major contributor to the year on year increase in body weight that often occurs during adulthood. [Department of Heath and Human Services' National Institutes of Health (2000)]

4. Weight Gain to the Nation

Total weight gain [assuming all other conditions equal] from 80 million Easter eggs is 12 million kilograms.

This is the equivalent to over 80,000 sumo wrestlers, assuming the average sumo wrestler weighs 148 kilos (The Japan Society).

5. Exercise Required

Burning off the Easter egg bulge will require an equivalent effort greater than the Government's recommended target for 'reasonably active' people for a whole week by each and every British citizen.

* Assuming that Easter egg consumption is spread evenly across the British population [59.2m], the average Easter egg calories consumed per person is 1418.

* Cycling for 30 minutes burns approximately 210 calories.

* Burning off your Easter egg calories will therefore require almost 3 and a half hours moderate exercise, such as cycling.

* This is more than the exercise the Government recommends weekly for a 'reasonably active' person (5 x 30mins of moderate exercise).

6. Target Shambles

I) On the floor of the House of Commons (8 March 2024), Don Foster MP revealed that Sports Minister, the Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP is ignoring widespread criticism of his physical activity target shambles. He asked following Parliamentary Question:

Mr. Don Foster (Bath) (LD): Given the look that the Minister gave me only a few seconds ago, I should tell him that at 7 o'clock this morning I was in the gym.

The Minister tells us that the delivery plan is due shortly. Will it be based on the current active participation target of 70 per cent. to be achieved by 2020? The figures show clearly that it will not be achieved until 2042. The Wanless report said that it was nonsense and Sport England has effectively dismissed it. What action will the Government take? Will they scrap the target, as they have done with the child participation in sports target, or will we see real action to achieve a target that currently there is no sign of the Department meeting?

Mr. Caborn: The target still stands. I know that the hon. Gentleman will agree that we are trying to ensure that our nation becomes much more active.

About 30 years ago, a child took part in 70 per cent. more physical activity than a child does today. That illustrates the real problem. Wanless clearly said that it is not that we are absorbing more calories but that we are engaging in considerably less activity. That poses a challenge to many. Architects, for example, should ensure that they incorporate stairways in their designs. Town planners should understand that it is desirable for pedestrian walkways to be a feature of their designs. Investment of about £2 billion in sports facilities and coaching, for example, is a move in the right direction. It remains to be seen whether we shall achieve the 70 per cent. target, but we can make inroads into that if everybody starts to attend gyms such as that in the House of Commons.

II) The Government's Game Plan published Dec 2002 (endorsed by Sport
England) set the target to increase the percentage of the population who are reasonably active (defined as 30 mins activity a day 5 times a week) by 2020 from 32% to 70%.

III) No other country, not even the most successful, has achieved the rate of improvement in the percentage of reasonably active people required in this country to achieve this target.

IV) No other part of the UK has as unachievable a target as England. Scotland has set a target of 50% by 2022. Wales and Northern Ireland have no targets rigid targets but aim to increase activity.

V) The Wanless Report into Public Health published last week strongly criticised Government targets on public health in general and called the target on 70% target on physical activity "highly aspirational".

It called for new "realistic" short and medium-term targets on physical activity: "For example, smoking, obesity and physical activity objectives should all be reassessed immediately after the consultation period which is about to begin and the consultation should be used to gauge opinion as well as the desire of the public to tackle the issues...

An objective should be set to halt the rise in obesity now with a gathering pace of reductions planned for the medium-term while ambitious but realistic short and medium-term physical activity targets should replace the current aspiration. The new objectives should be fixed for 2007 and 2011. The White Paper should propose the plans to achieve them, detailed costings and research programmes and a structure for periodic reassessment of the objectives for all of the major determinants."

VI) In response to the Wanless Report, Sport England effectively signalled that they have dropped the 70% target.

They confirmed that even a target of 1% annual rate of improvement - less than half that needed in order to achieve the 70% target by 2020 - would be "challenging but achievable".

"Wanless calls for targets for participation in physical activity to be set for 2007 and 2011. Sport England looks forward to informing the Department of Health's thinking on what a suitable target should be, based on our research, which indicates that a 1% increase per year in participation is challenging but achievable."

VII) Even if the 1% rate of improvement is achieved, this target would not be achieved until 2042 - and the whole nation would not be 'active' until 2072!

VIII) Yet Sport England's regional sports boards - who will be the key bodies responsible for delivering the activity target - seem less certain.

Their strategies to deliver the target - already long-delayed - are now caught between the two stools of the Sport Minister's blind devotion to his 70% activity target and the realism of Sport England.

Of the Nine Regional Sports Boards:

* Five regional sports board still have no plan.
* Two have stuck to the Sports Minister's target
* One appears to reject it
* One openly rejects it preferring instead a "'real'
belief" in a 50% target

East No plan n/a
London No plan n/a
South East No plan n/a
West Midlands No plan n/a
Yorkshire No plan n/a
East Midlands Draft plan online Accepts 70% target
North East Draft plan online Accepts 70% target but it
is "ambitious"
North West Incomplete draft plan online Does not dismiss 70%
target - refers to a 1% improvement annual rate [this would fail to deliver
the 70% target]

South West Draft plan online Describes the 70% target
as "ambitious" - Commits instead to a 50% target

SW commit to a "'real' belief that with the collective energies of all stakeholders we could produce a change of just over 50%".

IX) The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has already abandoned its other major target on activity -the Department's Public Service Agreement Target on physical activity for children - because it was failing.

The DCMS Annual Report 2003 shows that the Government failed to meet their target to "raise significantly, year on year, the time spent on sport and physical activity" by children. In fact, it declined: ”The results of the most recent survey, in July 2002, indicate that the average time per week spent on sport and physical activity by those aged 5 to 16 went from eight hours 23 minutes in 1999 to eight hours 12."

DCMS have now adopted a new target on children's physical activity.

This article published: 19/04/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank

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