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There's 'no excuse' for being fat, Tory health spokesman declares

By Ben Russell

There is "no excuse" for people to be too fat, the Conservatives will declare today as they launch a drive to encourage healthier lifestyles.

In a speech which points to Conservative demands for greater personal responsibility across social policy, the Tories' health spokesman Andrew Lansley will insist that people claiming biological or environmental causes for their obesity are simply making excuses.

He will use the speech on public health to announce a string of measures to remove the "peer pressure" he claims is responsible for teenage obesity, underage sex and binge drinking. Firms would be urged to cut the size of ready meals, while Olympic stars could be used as role models to encourage young people to live more healthily. He will insist that the initiative is "not about telling people what to do", but will add: "Tackling the environment should not be a licence to lecture people – because they have no excuse not to exercise, or eat their fruit and vegetables."

Labour said the plans had "very little substance".

Mr Lansley acknowledged he could do more to improve his own fitness. He said: "I have a body mass index of 28 which means I'm classified as slightly overweight. I make no secret about the fact that I could be fitter, but following fitness training with Men's Health last year I use a running machine and my children wear me out playing football."

The health spokesman's comments on obesity echo David Cameron's speech last month when he said the poor, the obese and people with drug and alcohol problems are partly to blame for their own plight.

Mr Lansley will say the Government must change the behaviour of millions of adults and children to "defuse the time-bomb of obesity-related ill-health". He will argue: "Tell people that biology and the environment causes obesity and they are offered the one thing we have to avoid: an excuse. As it is, people who see more fat people around them may themselves be more likely to gain weight."

He will insist that a future Tory government would not "nanny" people, pledging to scrap support for "traffic light" food labelling and arguing the party would not extend the ban on junk food advertising during children's television shows. Instead, Mr Lansley will propose a "responsibility deal" with companies to encourage firms to cut the salt, sugar and fat content of food.

Ann Keen, the Health minister, said: "Once again the Tories offer lots of warm words but with very little policy substance. The Tories are using individual responsibility as an excuse for their lack of effective policies in this area."

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