Restaurants and fast food outlets could be forced into line with the grocery trade under plans requiring them to display the calories in their food.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley indicated that legislation could be implemented requiring menus to display calorie counts, in what marks the latest move by Whitehall to tackle public obesity.
The plans would take in food served in pubs and could be extended to include alcoholic drinks.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "We are working with industry on a range of options. At present, there are no plans to legislate."
The news comes after it emerged last week that a string of fast food outlets had opted out of a voluntary scheme to display calories following the conclusion of a trial period.
Editor's Comment: Lazy, ill-informed reports highlight flaws in the health debate (17 July 2010)
Second Opinion: Nanny staters can’t fix bad diets (10 July 2010)