UK consumer group Which? has urged regulators to get tough on adverts that promote junk food to children.

According to a survey carried out by Which? campaigners, 83% of consumers believe junk food adverts make it harder to feed children a healthy diet and a majority – 84% – want the government to take action.

However, the UK food industry has responded by pointing out that advertising is already heavily regulated.

“The UK has one of the most comprehensive sets of regulations governing broadcast and non-broadcast advertising in the whole of Europe,” a spokesperson for the Food and Drink Federation told just-food today (18 April).

“Our member companies are responsible in the way they promote their products. We do not believe that further restrictions are necessary,” the industry body added.

In January, a total ban on junk food adverts during programming aimed at the under-16s came into effect.

However, Which? claims that this does not go far enough. The consumer group wants to see a blanket ban on junk food adverts before the 9pm watershed.

Moreover, Which? added that advertising on the Internet an on packaging was under regulated.

Which?’s Clare Corbett said: “New types of promotions, like online and text messaging, have given food companies a whole new playground to promote unhealthy products to children. It’s no wonder pester power is a continuing problem and our research shows the real strength of public feeling.”

A bill that would see stronger restrictions on the advertising of unhealthy food to children, including a 9pm watershed, is due for its second reading in Parliament next week.