Podgy police in Nepal must lose weight or give up any hope of being promoted under a new drive against obesity among desk-bound officers, the force has announced.

Nepalese Police Headquarters in the capital Kathmandu vowed this week to tackle the problem after complaints from the public that well-padded officers were unable to perform their duties.

"When you are fat, you look lousy and it's obvious that perception of people towards you is not positive. They don't trust you," police spokesman Bigyan Raj Sharma said, adding annual tests would be introduced to monitor progress.

"Officers who fail will be barred from promotion and transferred to less well-paying posts," Sharma told AFP. "Our job demands that we are alert and physically fit at all times."

Sharma said the initiative was the result of feedback received by the Secretariat of the Inspector General of Police from unhappy members of the public.

Each of the force's 56,000 officers will be given an individual regime to help them keep fit, and issued with a target Body Mass Index.

Fitness and yoga sessions will be scheduled, following a successful yoga camp with the renowned Indian guru Swami Ramdev organised for police last month.

Sharma said that junior officers working in desk jobs were the worst affected by weight problems.

"Some officers work for 18 hours a day here in the capital. The situation is getting worse and more improper," he said. "They must be given time for physical fitness training."