This site is intended for health professionals only

Food 'should be regulated like tobacco'

Food should be regulated “like cigarettes” because obesity is a bigger global health risk than tobacco, international health leaders have claimed. 

Tighter rules are needed, including pictures on food packaging of the damage caused by obesity, the World Obesity Federation and Consumers International have claimed. 

The two organisations have called on governments to impose rules for the food and drink industry. 

The rules could include reducing levels of salt, saturated fat and sugar in food and educating the public about healthy eating. 

The groups said global deaths due to obesity and being overweight rose from 2.6 million in 2005 to 3.4 million in 2010. 

Luke Upchurch at Consumers International said: "We want to avoid a situation like the 1960s, where the tobacco industry were saying there is nothing wrong with cigarettes, they are good for our health, and 30 or 40 years later millions have died.

"If we don't take action now, we are going to have the same intransigence and foot-dragging in the food industry."

Dr Ian Campbell, clinician and founder of the UK's National Obesity Forum, said: "The inescapable fact is obesity is killing on a massive scale and only action from governments to tackle head-on the fundamental causes of obesity will lead to any meaningful decreases."