Experts have warned that sugar has now become just as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco when it comes to the nation's health, and urged the food industry to take action in a bid to battle the obesity crisis.
Academics and health experts have come together today to launch the 'Action on Sugar' campaign, which calls on food producers to reduce the amount of sugar in everyday products, as well as to stop advertising sweet drinks and snacks to children.
The campaign hopes food manufacturers will cut sugar levels by 30 per cent, and claim the reduction could mean Brits are eating 100 fewer calories each day. The move would, the experts say, reverse the country's obesity crisis within five years.
Those who did not meet the targets, the group suggests, should be fined by the government, or pay a 'sugar tax'.
While sugary drinks will be well known as unhealthy by most UK adults, many remain unaware of the hidden sugars found in soups, sauces and ready meals.
Currently one in four adults in England is obese, and three in ten children between the ages of two and 15 are either overweight or obese. According to The Telegraph, the resulting health problems cost the UK more than £5 billion every year.
Of particular concern, say the experts, is the way children are targeted by advertisers, and the group described sugar as "the alcohol of childhood".
Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, told the paper: "Sugar is the new tobacco.
"Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focused on profit not health. The obesity epidemic is already generating a huge burden of disease and death."
What do you think? Should the responsibility lie with the food industry, or with us as consumers? Leave your comments below...