The industry has attacked new research from consumer group Which? that claims 84% of people want the government to tighten controls over marketing food to kids and bring in a 9pm watershed.

The report, which comes ahead of a second reading of the Food Products (Marketing to Children) Bill in parliament next week, also claims food companies have created a “playground to promote unhealthy products” through new media such as online and texting.

“We don't recognise the picture painted by Which?” said Julian Hunt, director of communications at the Food and Drink Federation. “The UK is one of the most heavily regulated countries in Europe when it comes to food and drink. The rules in place have dramatically changed the marketing landscape.”

A 9pm watershed on food ads would do nothing to reduce obesity, added Baroness Peta Buscombe, CEO of the Advertising Association: “Anybody of sound mind and body would oppose irresponsible marketing',” she said. “But the reality is that the industry takes a responsible approach and there has been real change in the nature of food ads to kids.”