A year-long inquiry by MPs into the problem of obesity is expected to back the growing demands for a ban unless the food industry adopts a tough new advertising code in the near future. The Health Select Committee's hard-hitting report is anxiously awaited by ministers, who have threatened a ban but would prefer food companies to put their own house in order.
Ministers have been warned by television companies that they would scrap some educational programmes for children in the event of a ban because their ad revenues would be cut.
The committee has studied definitions of children's television, product placement and whether Ofcom could order advertisers to market "healthy products" on television. It is expected to demand a simple "traffic light" system of information about the fat content in foods in place of the present confusing system.
In their evidence to the inquiry, the food and advertising industries have strongly opposed the calls for an ad ban, arguing that commercials are not the cause of Britain's so-called "obesity time bomb".