A group of some of the UK’s top health and consumer groups have backed a report submitted to the government and the Food Standards Agency calling for a ban on junk food advertising to children.

Sustain, the campaign group that coordinated the report, said the campaign had support from 106 organisations including the British Dental Association, the British Heart Foundation, the Consumers’ Association, the Royal College of Physicians and the National Union of Teachers.

Sustain said the UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport, Tessa Jowell, is expected to call for the food industry to act on a voluntary basis regarding junk food advertising.

“The food industry has proved itself incapable of acting in a socially responsible way. Huge profits are at stake, so we don’t believe that they will voluntarily stop promoting junk food to kids. For the sake of children’s health, statutory controls are urgently required,” said Charlie Powell, project officer at Sustain.

Martin Paterson, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents manufacturers, said food and drink makers take a “very responsible view” of advertising, particularly when it comes to those adverts aimed at children.

“Strict codes of practice already exist, and these state that ads should not encourage children to eat or drink frequently throughout the day, condone excessive consumption, or suggest that confectionery or snacks should replace balanced meals,” Paterson said.

“Obesity is a serious problem and the UK food industry wants to play its part in finding realistic solutions. There are no quick fixes. Any action needs to be based on sound science, and requires government and all stakeholders to work together with a commitment to achieving real results over the long term,” he added.

In response to Sustain’s report, Tessa Jowell said she was sceptical that banning junk food advertising to children would reduce levels of obesity.

“The reason I am sceptical is that we have got to come back to the evidence. We are getting fatter because we are less active,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Of course advertising has an impact, but what we have to judge in government…is whether this action would be proportionate.”