Doctors in England and Wales should offer overweight patients “green space” prescriptions to get them exercising outdoors, says the Local Government Association.

The prescriptions could provide free visits to national parks or gardening sessions at National Trust properties, for example.

A small number of GPs already do this.

The LGA says it needs to become universal policy to tackle the nation’s obesity crisis.

It’s calling on NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to drive the initiative forward.

In Dorset, doctors already prescribe walks, conservation work, gardening and sailing.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has developed an IT system which links up GPs with leisure centres so they can book patients directly on to exercise plans.