The advisory group on obesity was disbanded by the government after clashes over the direction of policy, it has emerged.
Professor Klim McPherson of Oxford University, a member of the group, said ministers “ignored” its suggestions and instead focused on food and drink companies.
He said “too many” members of the group had been critical of the government’s responsibility deal with industry, which is designed to bring a partnership approach to tackling public health.
He said the government was not interested in what it could do to help people but more concerned with what industry could do.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has come under fire from charities and health campaigners, including television chef Jamie Oliver, over his “woefully inadequate” plan for dealing with obesity.
Mr Lansley has said he is not in favour of regulating the food and drink industry and says “more progress has been made more quickly” through the responsibility deal than would have been managed through legislation.
The responsibility deal has proved controversial due to the involvement of companies such as Cadbury, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Kraft, Mars, Nestle and PepsiCo, alongside Britvic and supermarket giant Tesco.
Today, Professor McPherson, who is chair of the National Heart Forum, told the Guardian: “Too many of us were giving critical voice to the responsibility deal and its effectiveness.”
The group had been suggesting a more aggressive government policy and discussing interventions such as fat taxes and proper food labelling, “which government wasn’t going to do”.
He said: “They ignored us. Then rather than ignoring us, they disbanded us. Government policy is not concerned with what central government can do - it is more concerned with what industry can do.”
Professors Tim Lang and Geof Rayner, other members of the group, wrote in the British Medical Journal earlier this year of their concern over industry sponsorship of the social marketing campaign Change4Life.
There was a risk the policy of “nudging” people into more healthy habits through incentives would become “a smokescreen for, at best, inaction and, at worst, publicly endorsed marketing”, they said.
The group was put in place by the Labour government following a major Foresight report on obesity, which warned of a growing obesity problem.