The UK is the second worst country in Europe for "nanny state" regulations on health and people's lifestyles, according to an index published by free market think tanks on Wednesday 10 May.

The 2017 Nanny State Index, produced by the Institute of Economic Affairs and the European Policy Information Centre, gives all 28 EU countries a score out of 100 based on how they regulate "lifestyle choices" such as alcohol and cigarettes.

The UK, which plans to implement a tax on sugary drinks in 2018 and banned branding on tobacco products in 2016, scored 37.4 (up from 35 and third place last year). Finland, which came out on top of the table, was given 51.6 (down from 53.7 in 2016).

"There is no prize for being the EU's most intolerant country. Too many politicians seem to think that treating their citizens like children is a matter of national pride," said Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The index also claimed that the Czech Republic was the most liberal country in the EU (11.5), with Germany (15.9) and Slovakia (16.2) just behind.

"The Nanny State Index shows huge variations between the freest countries, such as Germany and the Czech Republic, and the most oppressive countries, such as Finland and the UK, but the situation is getting worse nearly everywhere." Snowdon said.

"It does not have to be this way. Governments should learn from the successful societies at the foot of the league table and embrace liberty."

The research comes ahead of the general election in the UK on 8 June. Labour have promised to ban junk food adverts during prime-time television (before 9pm) in a bid to tackle childhood obesity.

"The UK has one of the worst childhood obesity rates in Western Europe," said Jonathan Ashworth, Labour's shadow health secretary. "Tooth decay is the single most common reason why children aged five to nine require admission to hospital. Around 13% of boys and 10% of girls aged 11-15 have mental health problems.

"When it comes to our children we should be ambitious. It's time we invested properly in the health of the next generation. That means the sort of bold action we are outlining today to tackle obesity and invest in mental health provision.

Labour will put children at the heart our health strategy and put measures in place to make Britain's children the healthiest in the world."