The UK is the second worst country in the EU for nannying citizens, according to the Institute for Economic Affairs

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The UK ranked third in last year's figures (Source: Getty)

The UK is the second worst nanny-state in the EU, according to research from a leading free market think tank.

Britain falls behind only Finland in rankings from the Institute of Economic Affairs.

The Nanny State Index, published by the IEA and the European Policy Information Centre, scores countries on regulation of private, lifestyle choices.

Using 32 criteria related to food, soft drinks, alcohol, tobacco and e-cigarettes, it identifies the best and worst countries to eat, drink, smoke and vape.

The UK’s high position is attributed to excessive regulation and “sin” taxes, including plans for a levy on sugar in soft drinks.

Other measures cited include the extension of a ban on junk food advertising and measures to cut branding on cigarette packaging.

The UK also maintains the highest taxes on cigarettes and wine in the EU and the second highest taxes on beer.

Read More: Why sugar taxes don't work

This year marks the IEA’s second edition of the figures. Last year the UK ranked third, a position now occupied by Ireland.

Germany and Slovakia retain their positions as the most liberal countries in the EU.

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the IEA, said: “There is no prize for being the EU’s most intolerant country. Too many politicians seem to think that treating their citizens like children is a matter of national pride.

Snowdon added: “The situation is getting worse nearly everywhere. It does not have to be this way. Governments should learn from the successful societies at the foot of the league table and embrace liberty.”

The IEA also hailed “slivers” of liberalism appearing across the EU.

These included the legalisation of e-cigarettes in Denmark and Belgium.

In addition, Slovakian cyclists are now permitted to drink a pint of beer before using a cycle land.

And Finland has repealed its tax on ice cream.

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