The portion sizes of some of Britain’s most popular foods are to be cut, with health officials telling the public it is time “to get on a diet”.
Public Health England is targeting pizzas, ready meals, processed meat and takeaways, in a new obesity drive.
The government agency has also urged the food industry to start using healthier ingredients and encourage the public to opt for lower calorie foods.
It is all part of a drive to cut calorie consumption by 20% by 2024.
The target will apply to 13 different food groups, responsible for a fifth of the calorie intake of children.
It comes on top of the sugar reduction programme, launched last year, which is targeting nine different food groups. It also comes above the sugar drinks levy, which comes into force in April.
Combined, these three measures mean health officials are taking direct action to influence the consumption of foods responsible for half of children’s calories.
But PHE chief executive Duncan Selbie said the steps were as much about influencing the diets of adults.
“Britain needs to go on a diet. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories, and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.”
If action is not taken, PHE said, it would be prepared to ask the government to legislate.
It would be strictly monitoring progress by looking at which products people were buying and would be prepared to “name and shame” individual companies not pulling their weight.