Food served in restaurants and sold in supermarkets could have a calorie limit applied by the government in a bid to tackle obesity.

Ready meals, pizzas, onion bhajis and salads are among the foods which would fall under a calorie cap if the current plans being considered by Public Health England (PHE) are enforced.

The changes would impact the food industry, who may have to adapt their recipes and cooking methods in order to lower the calorie content to comply with the regulations.

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Image: Nearly one in four Reception-age children are overweight or obese

The way food is labelled in stores will not change, nor will the current calorie guidelines for men (2,500 calories per day) and women (2,000 calories per day).

In a statement to Sky News, Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and severe obesity in ten to eleven year olds has reached an all-time high.

“These are early days in the calorie reduction programme but the food industry has a responsibility to act.

“We are consulting on ambitious guidelines to help tackle everyday excess calories – we welcome the industry’s feedback to help shape the final guidelines, due for publication next year.”

Sky News understands the final guidelines are expected to be issued in the spring.

Proposed calorie limits include:

:: All convenience meals – 544
:: All restaurant mains – 951
:: Sandwiches – 550
:: Salad (as a main) – 550
:: Pizza – 1,040
:: Portion of chips sold in supermarkets – 302
:: Portion of chips in a restaurant – 416
:: Onion bhaji – 134

The consultation comes after PHE announced earlier this year that it was encouraging food sellers and manufacturers to cut calories in their products by 20% by 2024.

In the UK, nearly one in four Reception-age children and one in three children in Year Six (aged 10-11) are overweight or obese, according to PHE figures.

The body also reports two in three adults are overweight or obese.

The annual cost to the NHS of treating overweight and obesity-related ill health is £6.1bn.

A critic of the plans cited in the Daily Telegraph said the plans are “arbitrary, unscientific and unrealistic.”

Chris Snowdon, of the right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “These demands are worthy of Nero or Caligula.

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“The calorie caps are arbitrary, unscientific and unrealistic.

“It is reasonable to offer advice on daily calorie consumption but setting limits on individual meals is insane.”

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