A rift opened up this week between health groups involved in the anti-obesity campaign.
The Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, which has produced a report demanding government action - including a new sugar tax on fizzy drinks and a 9pm watershed for advertising of high-fat salt sugar foods - held a launch event at Westminster on Monday, attended by MPs including health minister Anna Soubry and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham.
Speaking at the launch, Academy chairman Professor Terence Stephenson warned the obesity epidemic was fuelled by a tide of cheap supermarket food. For just 93p, three packets of Asda own-label custard creams contained 6,000 calories, he said.
But Tam Fry, a leader of the National Obesity Forum, claimed the Academy was ignoring key issues affecting childhood obesity, notably the need for more education and support for parents to stop their babies becoming overweight.
“The whole [debate] has degenerated into political point-scoring and the Academy report is not a medical document backed by evidence,” he said. “They have spent a year coming up with a list of demands that are about political point-scoring. I’m afraid ministers will take one look at it and shunt it into the long grass.”
A spokesman for Asda said the argument was flawed: “We would hope that no one would consume three packets of custard creams in one sitting, however good value they are.
“We offer a balanced choice of food for customers and 93p would get you 2kg of carrots, which would take you much less time to work off.”