Sugar and fat will be taken out of hospital and school food as the council attempts to tackle the borough’s worryingly high obesity rate.

On Tuesday Barnet Council and its contractors agreed to provide healthier options at schools, hospitals and other buildings and work to raise public awareness of healthy eating.

More than half (53 per cent) of all adults aged over 16 in Barnet are overweight or obese, along with more than a third of the borough’s 10 and 11-year-olds.

Barnet was also named the least active London borough in a recent study by Sport England.

Eating foods that are high in sugar and fat can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and tooth decay, with poorer people among the worst affected.

The council’s Public Health Team is working with caterers in its own buildings and the borough’s leisure centres to encourage them to provide healthier options.

Barnet Hospital is cutting the amount of sugary drinks and high-calories sandwiches on offer, while medical chiefs have agreed to champion a “healthy hospitals” programme aimed at providing better quality food.

The local authority also aims to increase the number of businesses that are signed up to a scheme that commits them to providing healthier catering.

Labour member for Woodhouse Cllr Anne Hutton welcomed the healthy eating declaration but questioned how it would work in practice and how progress would be monitored.

She said the Tories had sold off the “excellent in-house catering service” the council used to have and suggested private firms tended to sell less healthy food to boost their profit margins.

Cllr Hutton said: “I support the initiative, but can we please ensure it means something for our residents.”

Cllr Alison Moore, Labour member for East Finchley, pointed out that people’s choices are often limited by their financial circumstances.

She said: “Those on lower incomes can struggle to make positive choices that we in this chamber are able to make.

“There are a rising number of people resorting to food banks. If you do two or three jobs or work long hours, healthier eating may not be a priority.

“While I support this declaration, we need to look at the impact of other policies that are forcing more families into poverty.”

The Local Government Declaration on Sugar Reduction and Healthier Eating was passed with the unanimous support of the council.