Launched under the banner 'Change4Life', the scheme is centred around an £8.7 million advertising campaign developed by M&C Saatchi and Aardman Animations.
The adverts focus on the effect of excess on children's health, with the slogan 'Eat well, move more, live longer'.
In addition to television and print advertising, the campaign will feature on bus stops and in supermarkets.
Events will be run to tie in with the campaign, a telephone line and website will help people find out about activities and support services and practices will be able to order leaflets, posters and other materials.
The government said it hopes the campaign will 'kickstart a lifestyle revolution'.
Dr Ian Campbell, a GP in Nottingham and medical director of the charity Weight Concern, praised the tone of the adverts. 'I think it's a good campaign,' he said. 'It's well thought-out and it's hard-hitting enough.'
He added: 'It is difficult to strike the right balance between encouraging change and nannying, but I think the adverts achieve that.'
Dr Campbell also stressed the importance of a consistent message being used in the 'Change4Life' branding.
'It's great that the government, health professionals and others are all now singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of what action is needed to tackle the issue,' he said.
Dorset GP Dr Graham Archard, who has an interest in cardiovascular disease, said that an anti-obesity scheme on this scale was long overdue.
'The campaign itself is great - it is just a shame it has taken the government so long to get together funds to support it.'
Any move to increase the amount of exercise people do, and improve the way they eat, should be welcomed, he argued.
'If parents don't do exercise and don't have a good diet, their children will tend to follow them into those habits,' he said.
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