Parents are neglecting their own health and risking their children's by a reckless attitude towards food, alcohol and smoking, Britain's top doctor has said.

Writing in The Observer, the chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Professor Steve Field, urges the nation to get fit or face the consequences, which include the risk of children dying before their parents.

His comments echo those of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who has called on Britons to take more responsibility for their health. Professor Field said: "Too many of us neglect our health and this is leading to increasing levels of illness and early death."

He added: "Unless parents exert more control over their children's diets, they are risking a lifetime of health problems, and even death before their parents."