A new study published by medical journal The Lancet claims that 23 million people in the UK will be obese in 20 years time - an increase from 26 per cent currently to 48 per cent for men and 43 per cent for women.
Researchers said the Government needed to take the lead in reducing obesity levels by introducing new legislation such as taxes on unhealthy food items or ‘junk food’, and the introduction of a mandatory traffic light labelling system, which would help encourage consumers to make healthier choices.
The measures were suggested amongst a raft of other lifestyle changes the Government could make to tackle obesity, such as promoting healthy eating and exercise in schools.
The report comes as controversy mounts over whether the Government’s drive to encourage restaurants and pubs to publish calorie information on their menus will have any effect on diners’ choices.
A recent study in New York, which introduced a mandatory calorie labelling scheme in 2008, showed that just 15 per cent of diners made use of the information and chose healthier dishes.
Public health minister Anne Milton said the Government had no intention of introducing a ‘fat tax’, a move previously reported to be considered by the Food Standards Agency.
“We have no current plans to impose a fat tax, but we are working with food companies to reduce fat, sugar and salt and ensure healthier options are available,” she told BBC news.
“We recognise the significant threat that obesity poses to society and have taken a proactive part in improving health.”