Obese child
(Reuters)

Labour will reveal plans to heavily regulate food marketed to children to tackle Britain's growing obesity crisis.

In a speech, shadow health secretary Andy Burnham will say that Britain's main opposition would set maximum limits on levels of fat, salt and sugar in food marketed to children, in a bid to protect them from obesity.

Burnham will also advocate the creation of a 'traffic light' system to make it easier for parents to understand the amount of fat, sugar and salt in the foods they buy for their family.

"Labour has traditionally led the way on public health and this new approach will chart a new course towards a healthy nation in the 21st century," Burnham will say.

"Children need better protection from the pressures of modern living and the harm caused by alcohol, sugar and smoke and Labour will not flinch from taking the action needed to provide it."

Burnham will also criticise the approach taken by the current Conservative-led government, which has largely been asking the industry to sign voluntary agreements.

Labour's approach to obesity recently came under attack from the Tories, whose spokesman said Ed Miliband's party "are naive to think that just banning particular types of food will support people to make informed choices. The public deserve better."

Britain's obesity epidemic currently costs the NHS billions of pounds each year. Government figures show that type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to being overweight, costs the NHS over £1.5m an hour, or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales.

Moreover, 15% of the population aged 15 and under are still obese.

Meanwhile, the Centre for Economic and Business Research warned Britain that the country faces a whopping £18.4bn in costs related to heart disease by 2020.