Doctors have recommended the Mediterranean diet, rather than counting calories, for sustainable weight loss and therefore tackling the obesity epidemic.

According to an article written by a group of doctors for the Postgraduate Medical Journal (PMJ), the low-fat Mediterranean diet can also help reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks, not just your waistline.

"A calorie is not just a calorie and it is naive for anyone to think the complex hormonal and neurological appetite systems of the body respond to different substances in the diet in identical fashion," said Professor David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum.

A Mediterranean diet is considerably low in fat but high in nutritional value and is laden with fruit and vegetables, nuts, and olive oil.

The signatories of the article, which include senior NHS England doctor Mahiben Maruthappu, criticised the weight loss industry for focusing on calorie restriction rather than "good nutrition".

Britain's obesity epidemic currently hits the NHS with billions of pounds in related costs.

For example, government figures show that type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to being overweight, costs the NHS over £1.5m (€1.9m, $2.4m) an hour, or 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales.

Around 3% of morbidly obese people develop type 2 diabetes each year.

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.