Main courses in restaurants could be limited to 951 calories under draft proposals from Public Health England.
The proposal, following on from consultations with the industry and other stakeholders, could see restaurants forced to curb the calorie content of several specific dishes, including pizza at 1,040 calories, and chips, waffles and mashed potatoes at 416 calories.
However, the industry is less restricted under the guidelines than other food providers, with coleslaw, potato salad, onion bhajis, pakoras, vol-au-vents, tempura prawns, Yorkshire puddings and prawn cocktails limited to 134 calories in supermarkets and 555 calories at restaurants.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: "Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and severe obesity in 10- to 11-year-olds has reached an all-time high.
The consultation, following further approvals, could roll out in spring. It comes amid concerns that calorie counting and labelling could put extra pressure on an industry already struggling under the strains of skills shortages, business rates and high rents.
In September 2018 UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: "The consultation does seem to acknowledge that there will be difficulties for some businesses, particularly smaller ones, to implement calorie labelling. UKHospitality has been very clear that any inflexible mandatory requirements will place considerable burdens on smaller businesses and those venues that change their menus regularly.
"UKHospitality will be using the consultation as an opportunity to reiterate that point and highlight the efforts already being undertaken by the sector to provide transparency and choice.
"At a time of economic and political uncertainty, and with costs continuing to rise for employers, the last thing businesses need is additional, unwieldy legislation. We will be making this point forcefully to the government to ensure that any new rules are proportionate and take into account the challenges faced by SMEs."