This is one of a barrage of lifestyle recommendations made by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
For the WCRF report, researchers at the organisation studied 7,000 articles published since the 1960s on the links between cancer and diet, physical activity and weight.
Maintaining a healthy BMI of 18.5-25, preferably at the lower end of the scale, throughout adulthood was the primary recommendation made by a panel of 21 experts.
Other recommendations included being physically active in everyday life, eating processed meats and red meats sparingly, avoiding energy-dense food and drinks, eating more fruit and vegetables and limiting salt and alcohol intake. The WCRF also advised against nutritional supplements, saying people should aim to get all their dietary needs from meals.
To protect mother and baby, the WCRF report recommends breast-feeding for at least six months.
Deputy CMO for England Dr Fiona Adshead, who is responsible for delivering the government obesity target, said the DoH will be examining the report, which was developed alongside the WHO and Unicef.
But Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, criticised government efforts to tackle obesity so far.
‘We have been disappointed with the government's response to the problem of obesity,’ she said. ‘Money has been diverted from delivering earlier commitments on obesity and there has been a lack of co-ordination across government departments.’
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