UK medics have released an “action plan” calling for a ban on junk food ads before the watershed that it says will help tackle the country’s rising obesity levels.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) set out their recommendations in a report published today (18 February) that also calls for a 20% increase in the cost of sugary drinks, fewer fast food outlets near schools and a ban on unhealthy food in hospitals.

AoMRC said it believes the “action plan for future campaigning activity” aims to “help tackle the nation’s obesity crisis”. It highlights ten recommendations for healthcare professionals, local and national government, industry and schools.

The report claims current strategies are failing and so calls for action by ministers, the NHS, councils and food firms, as well as changes in parental behaviour, to break the cycle of “generation after generation falling victim to obesity-related illnesses and death”.

“As health professionals, we see it across all our disciplines – from the GP’s surgery to the operating table and everything in between,” said Professor Terence Stephenson, a paediatrician and chair of the Academy. “So it is no exaggeration to say that it is the biggest public health crisis facing the UK today. Yet too often, vested interests dub it too complex to tackle.

“It’s now time to stop making excuses and instead begin forging alliances, trying new innovations to see what works and acting quickly to tackle obesity head on – otherwise the majority of this country’s health budget could be consumed by an entirely avoidable condition.”

Stephenson said the Academy will work with a range of “expert individuals and organisations” to take each of the report’s recommendations forward.”