A national campaign is needed to encourage people to change the way they lead their lives and reduce the number of people in need of obesity treatment, according to health secretary Alan Johnson.
Mr Johnson noted that 'hectoring and lecturing' people is unlikely to work and said that tackling obesity will require a "much broader partnership, not only with families but with employers, retailers, the leisure industry, the media, local government and the voluntary sector".
He told a meeting of the Fabian Society that vilifying overweight people does not make them change their behaviour.
"Commentators who point and shout at pictures of the morbidly obese simply fuel the problem.
"But if you present the message more intelligently - if you explain to parents that many children, regardless of their size, have dangerous levels of fat in their arteries or around their organs and this may reduce their life expectancy by up to 11 years - then people respond," Mr Johnson claimed.
The government recently published its 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives' strategy which aims to tackle obesity by communicating the seriousness of the issue to the public, helping them find ways to improve their diets and increasing levels of physical activity.