Surgeons, psychiatrists, paediatricians and GPs launched a campaign today to battle rising levels of obesity, saying current strategies are not working.
The inquiry will look at action that can be taken by individuals, including diet, exercise and parenting, as well as the impact of advertising, food labelling and sponsorship.
It will also examine clinical interventions, financial measures such as taxation and minimum pricing and education.
The campaign will be chaired by Professor Terence Stephenson, vice-chairman of the AoMRC and president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
He said the campaign would see medical professionals coming together in an unprecedented way.
“Our starting point is the collective desire to ensure the health care profession is doing all it can to detect, treat, manage – and ultimately prevent – obesity.
“It is unprecedented that the medical royal colleges and faculties have come together on such a high-profile public health issue. But we’ve done so because we recognise the huge crisis waiting to happen and believe that current strategies to reduce obesity are failing to have a significant impact.”
He added: “Speaking with one voice we have a more of a chance of preventing generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death.”
A quarter of women (24%) and just over a fifth of men (22%) in the UK are now classed as obese, giving Britain the highest rate of obesity in Europe.
One in three children are overweight or obese by the age of nine.
The campaign will seek the views of health care professionals, local authorities, education providers, charities, campaign groups and the public, in the form of written and oral evidence.
It’s first report will be published later this year and will offer recommendations for how the medical profession, individuals, organisations and the government can reduce obesity levels.
Professor Sir Neil Douglas, chairman of the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, said: “This won’t be just another report that sits on the shelf and gathers dust; it will form the bedrock of our ongoing campaigning activity.
“We are absolutely determined to push for whatever changes need to happen to make real progress in tackling – which is why we’re casting the net wide to get input from a range of organisations and individuals.
Professor Stephenson told The Observer that the Government must take on major brands, some of which he likened to the tobacco giants of the last century that stalled radical measures designed to save lives in order to protect their profits.
He said urgent action, similar to that undertaken to reduce smoking over the past two decades, was necessary to deal with a society that he defined as “obesegenic” – an environment that encourages the gaining of weight.
He told the newspaper: “What can you do about this obesegenic environment we live in? The fact that Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are two of the big corporate sponsors of the Olympic Games is most unhelpful. One of the biggest events we’re ever going to see in the UK, all those people watching TV and going through the doors will be seeing this. People must be influenced by it, or why would Coca-Cola spend a lot of money to be at the Olympics?”