The prime minister is set to announce new measures to curb obesity next week, and they are expected to include a ban on TV junk food adverts before 21:00.
The measures are yet to be finalised but are also likely to include a ban on online ads for unhealthy foods, and limits on in-store promotions.
It comes amid growing evidence people who are overweight or obese are at greater risk from coronavirus.
But one food industry leader said the move was a “slap in the face”.
The move marks a change in stance by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has previously criticised levies on foods high in salt, fat and sugar – and described his views on tackling obesity as “libertarian”.
Mr Johnson’s experience in intensive care during his treatment for Covid-19 is thought to have contributed to his changing position.
Speaking during a visit to a GP surgery in east London, he said that while he was not normally one for “nannying or bossying”, the country did need to lose weight to protect from a second spike.
He said: “Obesity is one of the real co-morbidity factors. Losing weight, frankly, is one of the ways you can reduce your own risk from coronavirus.”
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Boris Johnson has long been critical of the “nanny state”.
But the apparent link between obesity and more serious cases of Covid-19, along with his own experience in intensive care, appears to have convinced the prime minister that the government should take a more active role in promoting public health.
He has described the coronavirus crisis as “a devastating blow” so it seems that the obesity strategy will be part of a battle plan to prevent it striking so hard again.
Ministers are still finalising the detail of some anti-obesity measures, such as whether to require more prominent labelling of food and drinks with high levels of sugar or salt.
Some restaurants could be required to put calorie labels on menus.