In the first sign of how a future Tory Government would respond to pressure for greater state intervention on such issues, a party policy group has called for industries to show more "social responsibility".
The Conservatives would be unlikely to change the ad industry's code of practice, but they would expect food and alcohol companies to bring in tighter regulation - and the state could intervene as a last resort if they failed to do so. In return for acting responsibly, companies would be rewarded with lighter regulation in other areas.
An interim report by David Cameron's policy review group on corporate responsibility accuses food and drink companies of "glamorising" products that are high in salt, sugar and fats through advertising and product placement. But it supports the ad industry's view that bans would not solve the obesity crisis.
It calls for an end to the current "culture of blame" and says parents, individuals and government have a responsibility to act. "Banning the advertising of snack foods during children's television schedules, or legislating so companies improve the labelling of their products, will not solve the problem on their own," it says.
Alan Duncan, the Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary, said: "We want to harness the private interest for the public good. We want business to behave responsibly, as the best companies already do. We want fewer rules for those who behave well and we're open to all ideas to embrace best practice."