A group of health experts and academics have pledged to tackle rising obesity by combating sugar.

The new group, called ‘Action on Sugar’, claims that sugar has become as dangerous as alcohol or tobacco.

Action on Sugar has been set up by the team behind Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH), which has pushed for cuts to salt intake since the 1990s. The campaign has called on food producers to dramatically reduce levels of sugar in everyday products.

They are also asking companies to stop advertising sugary drinks and snacks to children.

Action on Sugar chairman Graham MacGregor, who is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine and set up CASH in 1996, said: “We must now tackle the obesity epidemic both in the UK and worldwide.

“This is a simple plan, which gives a level playing field to the food industry and must be adopted by the Department of Health to reduce the completely unnecessary and very large amounts of sugar the food and soft drinks industry is currently adding to our foods.”

Simon Capewell, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Liverpool, UK, said: “Sugar is the new tobacco.

“Everywhere, sugary drinks and junk foods are now pressed on unsuspecting parents and children by a cynical industry focused on profit not health.

“The obesity epidemic is already generating a huge burden of disease and death.”