Restaurants have been ordered to cut the size of their puddings by the government, or face being named and shamed.

According to The Times, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told a private meeting of more than 100 food companies that the performance of each individual food chain would be monitored and those that failed to take action would be exposed.

He said: “Going out to eat is no longer a treat. It’s a regular habit for many families and is contributing significantly to the extra calories and sugar that we all consume on a daily basis.”

As well as reducing the size of desserts, food chains including Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Starbucks have also been told to reduce the amount of sugar and calorific content in their food.

This move comes as part of the government’s plan to tackle childhood obesity. Supermarkets and food producers, including bakers, are also being urged to cut sugar in key products by 20% over the next five years. 

Public Health England (PHE) chief executive Duncan Selbie told the meeting that a third of children leaving primary school are too fat, and a fifth of those are obese.

He said: “We need a level playing field. If the food and drink bought in cafés, coffee shops and restaurants does not also get reformulated and portions rethought, then it will remain often significantly higher in sugar and bigger in portion than those being sold in supermarkets and convenience shops.

“This will not help the overall industry to help us all make healthier choices."

He also told the meeting that cereals, confectionery, yoghurts, ice cream, sweet spreads and jams, cakes, biscuits and breakfast foods such as croissants must all become less sweet or smaller.