Parents are overwhelmingly in favour of so-called ‘nanny state’ measures to promote healthy eating habits and restrict promotions of junk food, a major new survey has claimed.

A poll of more than 2,000 parents, conducted by researchers Savanta and the Children’s Food Campaign at Sustain, found more than 70% of parents were in favour of new taxes on HFSS products.

However, they were split over whether food companies were doing enough to make healthy food available to families, with 50% of parents saying they were, compared to 43% who said no and 7% who said they were unsure.

The online survey questioned parents in January, asking what they felt were the biggest challenges they faced when it came to feeding their children.

It found nearly 80% of parents said they were finding it harder to promote healthy eating habits with their children, despite nearly 90% saying it was a priority for them.

Food prices were highlighted as the biggest cost of living concern for parents, with 70% saying it was one of their biggest concerns, compared to 65% citing rising utility bills.

The poll revealed strong support for the next government to revive shelved plans for a crackdown on HFSS advertising, with nearly 90% of parents saying they believed their children were influenced by unhealthy food ads.

Less than 40% of parents said they thought the government was not doing enough to protect children from unhealthy marketing.

In the foreword to the report, called Our Children Our Future, Sustain patron Baroness Rosie Boycott said: “There has been lots of debate about the nanny state. Personally, I like the idea of a parent state.

“A parent state is one that lovingly invests in children’s health and development. A parent state is one that fights to the death to protect its children from anything that might harm them. A parent state is one that takes responsibility for the health and wellbeing of its children, instead of outsourcing that role to Big Food and all its advertising and marketing forces.

“This manifesto is clear on what parents and carers want government to do that will make it easier for them to ensure all our children eat more healthily.”

Barbara Crowther, Children’s Food Campaign manager at Sustain, said: “It should be easy for children to eat healthily but the reality is it’s not.

“Parents are battling daily against a barrage of unhealthy marketing campaigns, pricing barriers and confusing messaging.

“With many parents worrying about what their children are eating and saying it’s getting more difficult to ensure their children are accessing healthy food, we call on policymakers and all political parties to put aside arguments of nanny statism and listen to what support parents really need so that together, we can put children’s health at the heart of their future.”