The government called today for more restaurants to print calorie information on their menus.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley urged businesses to set a target date by which they will set out the nutritional value of products to their customers.

Mr Lansley said: “Our aim is to give people the help and advice they need to adopt a healthy lifestyle, and I want to make it as easy as possible for them to do that.

“That’s why we’re working with industry to bring in calorie information on menus.

“As a nation we are too unhealthy. We cost the NHS billions of pounds a year through bad diet, lack of exercise and poor lifestyle choices. We can and we must improve this.”

He suggested the voluntary move as he introduced plans for a network of businesses, health charities and public health experts to help people live “longer, healthier lives”. The group would address the issue of calorie labelling as part of its work.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that the first companies to introduce calorie labelling, which included Burger King, Pizza Hut and Pret a Manger, did so with few problems.

The call for calorie information to be more easily available comes as the FSA announces that some of the UK’s largest companies have made their menus healthier.

The agency will release details tomorrow of 33 companies which decreased their portion sizes and changed the ingredients in some of their products.

They include Pizza Hut, which reduced the salt in its pizzas by 5% to comply with FSA guidelines, and coffee outlet Costa, which now offers lower fat sandwiches and muffins.