With 60% of adults and 20% of pre-school children overweight or obese, the local authority is now embarking on a plan of action to tackle the problem that will include improving safety in local parks and enhancing the built environment.

Glasgow City Council says that its strategy to halt the rise of the epidemic, which is costing the NHS in the UK £1bn a year, “must go beyond exhorting individuals to eat less and do more” and “seek to change the environments in which we live today and which foster weight gain”.

Scotland is the second fattest nation in the developed world, behind America, while in Glasgow the proportion of the local population either overweight or obese has increased rapidly over the last decade.

Although a lot of work has gone into the prevention and treatment of weight issues in Glasgow, approaches to tackling obesity have had limited success and are based mainly on individual “opt-in” approaches such as exercise or cooking classes or medical interventions such as drugs or surgery.

The council’s report states: “The Healthy Weight Action Plan is focused on addressing the environments that promote high energy intake and sedentary behaviour. For example, physical activity can be promoted through improving perceptions of safety in local parks, thereby encouraging people to walk about more, as well as through the provision and maintenance of high-quality, safe cycle lanes and footpaths.”

Councillor George Redmond, executive member for health and wellbeing, said: “If we can reduce the fear of crime then it follows that people will have greater confidence to be physically active within their communities.

“We also need to take practical measures such as improving the infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists.”

The council is already preparing streetscape design guides to be used when constructing walking schemes, and is to seek funding to extend and improve infra­structure facilities for pedestrians.

However, Professor Mike Lean, of Glasgow University said that having advised governments around the world on nutrition and obesity, he was sceptical about how effective politicians could be in reducing the problem.

He added: “There are many things that would help, including education of the ‘hosts’ of the epidemic. It’s about draining the swamp of which the built environment is a part.”