A new obesity outcomes strategy, due this spring, will see central government take a 'non-coercive role', according to Richard Cienciala, deputy director of the department's obesity programme.
It will encourage local partners across commissioning groups to tackle the problem, in line with the coalition government's strategy to 'nudge' people to better health.
Speaking at the obesity conference, Mr Cienciala said: 'Obesity puts a huge cost on the NHS at a time when it is under pressure like never before.'
The strategy will add to plans set out in the NHS Outcomes Framework launched in December last year. This is designed to track health outcomes to improve national accountability in the NHS.
Mr Cienciala ruled out a tax on fast food, saying there were no plans to put the idea to the Treasury.