Professor Alan Jackson is director of the National Institute for Health Research at the Southampton Biomedical Research Centre.
He is also president of the Association for Nutrition and holds a number of other leading roles in global nutrition.
On the food industry’s responsibility to public health, he said: “All parties [food producers, big food companies, government, supermarkets, media, schools, individuals] have a part of the solution within their gift and the need is to agree to work together for a common solution that can be acceptable to all.
“The food industry carries a special, heavy responsibility because of its enormous economic power, resource and capability to influence and modify individual choice and behaviour. This power and opportunity can and should be used for better outcomes and needs to be deployed in an open and transparent way.
“The food industry has lost the trust of many parts of society and collectively they will have to work very hard to regain that trust. Failure to accept this and work in the agreed direction of improvement should meet with a legislative response as appropriate.”
On what action should be taken to remedy the crisis, he said: “It’s possible, by choosing one or other facet, to argue against almost any position and that makes for an engaging debate.
“But none of that detracts from the fact we have a serious problem [about obesity] in our society that touches nearly everyone and is threatening, not only the current health but the future health of the population.”