The Labour Party will make food manufacturers reduce the sugar content of processed food and use prominent labels listing how many teaspoons of sugar and salt was in a product.

Labour's health minister Annette King set out the anti-obesity policy at the party's annual conference in Palmerston North today.

She said the Government's recent obesity package was a "feeble attempt" at addressing the problem.

If Labour was in Government, it would give a time frame for industry to reduce sugar content in all processed food.


It would also require labelling on the front of a package - as happened with tobacco - that was easy for people to understand.

"I agree with Jamie Oliver that members of the public would be more conscious about what they were eating if they knew the number of teaspoons of sugar or salt that is in their food."

She also signalled a return to Labour's previous measure of banning unhealthy food such as pies in school tuck shops, saying Labour's policy would also address food in schools and further restrictions on advertising of unhealthy food to children.

Ms King said obesity was due to overtake smoking as a leading cause of ill-health.

The former Labour government had implemented programmes such as nutrition and sport programmes, Fruit in Schools and requiring tuck shops to sell healthy food.

"Most of it was dumped and labelled 'Nanny State' by an ignorant and politically motivated National Government in 2009."

Labour would also put in place a childhood obesity reduction target - something Health Minister Jonathan Coleman had rejected officials' advice over.

Ms King said the success of such measures would require community buy-in as well as Government leadership.


Ms King also hit back at the critics of her political longevity after she was re-anointed as Labour's deputy leader recently, rather than the role going to Jacinda Ardern.

"No, I am not the new face of Labour. In fact, I am a very familiar old face, well worn but not worn out. I am the same age as Hillary Clinton who wants to be the next President of the United States."