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Government Response to Report: Impact of body image on mental and physical health

2 February 2023

The Government has rejected a call by MPs to urgently introduce a promised licensing regime to regulate non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

The Committee’s report, the impact of body image on mental and physical health, called for Ministers to speed up the introduction of a licensing regime after hearing evidence of the dangers posed by non-surgical cosmetic procedures to vulnerable groups. The Government said the scale of the work required meant it would not be able to meet the recommended timeframe. Non-surgical procedures include Botox injections, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and non-surgical laser interventions.

Ministers also rejected recommendations to make dermal fillers available as prescription-only substances, in line with Botox, and to ensure specific premises standards for all premises that provide non-surgical cosmetic procedures, after hearing about such procedures regularly being carried out in places which some characterised as ‘filthy’.

The delayed Government Response, published today by the Department of Health and Social Care, rejects several recommendations from MPs aimed at tackling obesity, including a call for a dedicated eating disorder strategy and annual holistic health and wellbeing assessments for every child and young person. Further, the Government could not commit to the introduction of restrictions on multibuy deals for foods and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar, including buy-one-get-one-free. Instead, the Government Response pointed to existing measures.

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Steve Brine MP said:

“It is extremely disappointing that the Government has failed to recognise the urgent need for greater protection for vulnerable groups seeking non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The delay leaves people at risk of exploitation and we urge the Government to deliver the regulation that is necessary now.

“The Government's approach in putting the onus on an individual to find a ‘reputable’ provider of non-surgical cosmetic procedures in place of regulation and legislation that would protect the consumer is badly thought through.

“Eating disorders among young people are increasing and if not dealt with early can become extremely serious even leading to lengthy acute admissions. We wanted a dedicated eating disorder strategy to tackle it for good reason, based on solid evidence.

“Rolling it into other areas of Government work represents a missed opportunity to give it the priority it needs.

"Issues like this are too important to ignore and the Government’s response here runs contrary to the Secretary of State’s stated determination to get serious about prevention. Our major new inquiry into the prevention of ill-health will give the Committee the opportunity to return to subjects like eating disorders and Ministers can be sure we shall do that.”

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