A new report commissioned by UK charity the Children's Society, has highlighted a number of issues - including the advertising of unhealthy foods - that mean children's lives are "more difficult than in the past". 

The independent study's findings will be published later this month in Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age, a paperback by Richard Layard and Judy Dunn.

"The Good Childhood Inquiry highlighted a number of issues that are impacting the quality of childhood in the UK," a spokesperson for the charity told just-food. "It covers a spectrum of issues, from the breakdown of the nuclear family, to stress at school, to advertising."

Among its recommendations, the Children's Society has called for a ban on all advertising aimed at children under 12 years old. It also wants adverts for alcohol or unhealthy food to be banned before 9pm.

The UK's Food and Drink Federation, however, defended the industry's record on food advertising and argued that further restrictions are unnecessary.

"On this particular point the researchers would appear to be behind the times," the FDF told just-food. "The UK already has some of the strictest advertising rules in place. In fact, Ofcom's own review of its advertising regulations proved that the existing rules are working, demonstrated that advertisers are meeting the spirit and letter of the law, and also showed that there is little evidence to support those who claim that further scheduling restrictions are required."