In a major speech on Wednesday 26th July, the UK prime minister, Tony Blair warned that the health service could be crippled by the cost of treating those affected by obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking.
But, he says government does have a role in encouraging healthier lifestyles.
The PM has indicated he would consider banning advertising of junk food to children to boost public health.
Speaking on the eve of the Nottingham speech, Mr Blair said he has become less worried that bringing in such measures would be portrayed as "nanny state" politics.
"It has got to be about prevention as much as about cure," Mr Blair said on Tuesday at a Labour party event.
"The question is what can the Government do for the future to encourage more healthy lifestyles and living."
He said the debate was "important because going forward we can't afford the healthcare costs if we don't take some of the responsibility as individuals for our healthcare."
He added: "We are in a situation where no matter how much money we spend on health, if we are carrying more cases of diabetes than we need, losing vast sums on treating alcohol abuse and smoking; if we are in a position where we are still carrying these costs, in time we have got a crunch in policy down the line."
The UK Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, commented on Tony Blair's speech on public health, in which he said it was the job of the Government to empower individuals rather than command them to lead healthier lives. Thursday 27th July 2006
Why we can’t accept the plan to eliminate individual freedom and allow runaway AI to threaten humanity as we know it. Or pretend that our lives are a simulation created by a much more advanced civilisation