Government health adviser Professor David Hunter believes obesity in the UK is now a greater threat than terrorism.
The Durham University prof reckons the NHS needs to stop focusing exclusively on treatment of ill health and do more to promote good health.
Hunter said: "The government was quick to move for things like ID cards or 42-day detention without trial - now it needs to show similar leadership in public health.
"The threat to our future health is just as significant as the current security threat," he said, according to the Beeb.
Hunter is also critical of government obsessions with private sector-style management of the health service and increasing reliance on international healthcare businesses.
He said: “There is a fixation on the latest fads and fashion in management, combined with a ‘terror by target’ culture, which has resulted in low staff morale and a breakdown in relations between clinicians and managers."
He calls for action to control levels of fat, sugar and salt in processed foods although he does accept that voluntary labelling codes have had some impact.
Hunter, who has a book to punt, said many of the problems faced by the NHS are not new but that policy makers too often fail to learn lessons from the past.
The professor's comments reflect those made by ex-US Surgeon-General Richard Carmona in 2006. ®