A poster linking eating meat with child abuse has been unveiled by an animal rights group in a County Durham town named as a national obesity blackspot.
The poster shows a podgy child about to scoff a burger
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) says Easington was targeted because of an obesity rate of 22% above the national average.
It claims feeding meat to children is tantamount to child abuse as it is linked with life-threatening diseases.
The Meat and Livestock Commission has branded the poster irresponsible.
Marking the start of a national campaign, the poster is situated in a bus shelter on Seaside Lane in the town.
It shows a podgy child about to eat a hamburger, with the tagline Feeding Kids Meat Is Child Abuse. Fight the Fat. GoVeg.
Anita Singh, from Peta, said: "The damage caused by a meat-based diet is like a ticking time-bomb in kids.
"Vegetarian kids are slimmer, have more energy, get better grades and are all-around better off than their meat-eating peers."
Phil Saunders, from the Meat and Livestock Commission, said: "These sort of claims are incredibly irresponsible and are not science-based.
"It's a well-known fact that meat contains trace elements and minerals which are essential for growing children.
"As far as disease is concerned, there is no evidence linking meat with any specific diseases as long as it is eaten as part of a balanced diet with other food groups."