Britain's chief medical officer has called on the food industry to adopt a "more responsible" approach to marketing foods, to try to tackle the obesity epidemic.
Giving his annual report on the state of the nation's health, Sir Liam Donaldson highlighted obesity as one of five major issues currently overwhelming the health service. He said that food manufacturers should improve labelling on fatty and sugary foods.
"Obesity levels have tripled in England over the past two decades and a major cause for concern is the growth in the proportion of overweight and obese children. Most worrying is evidence to show that children are starting to present with late onset (type 2) diabetes which has in the past occurred in middle and older age," he said.
Almost 24 million adults in the UK are now overweight or obese. Obesity leads to an increased risk of chronic and often fatal diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
"I recommend that action is taken by the food industry to adopt a more responsible approach to marketing foods high in fat and added sugars, particularly to children," continued Sir Liam.
Donaldson, the Government's senior advisor on medical issues, is by no means the first to request help from the food industry. Consumer groups and medical professionals have been calling on food manufacturers to reduce salt and fat content in their products for some time.
While the chief medical officer urged the Food Standards Agency to look at options for reducing obesity through improving the transparency of food labels, as well as alerting consumers to the risks of high fat foods, global companies also seem more willing to improve the nutritional value of food. Earlier this week, Kraft said it would limit portion sizes and include nutrition labelling on all of its food ranges. McDonald's fast-food chain has also made moves to add 'healthier' options to its offering, although some believe such actions are merely precautions to avoid the lawsuits likely to face US food companies in the future.