Ofcom has banned the advertising of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt in all programmes aimed at children under the age of 16.

Releasing its ruling on the restrictions of food and drink advertising to children this morning, it said: “Ofcom believes that the best way to achieve its objectives would be a total ban on HFSS food and drink advertisements in and around all programmes of particular appeal to children under the age of 16, broadcast at any time of day or night on any channel.”

“This would include a total ban in and around all children's programming and on dedicated children's channels as well as in youth-oriented and adult programmes which attract a significantly higher than average proportion of viewers under the age of 16,” it added.

Because it decided to raise restrictions to under-16s rather than under-9's as first proposed, a short and focused consultation to seek views on extending restrictions to protect these older children will be launched.

The consultation will close before Christmas with the final determination in January 2007.

It has also put forward new rules on the content of advertisements targeted at primary school children. These rules would ban the use of celebrities and characters licensed from third-parties (such as cartoons), promotional claims (such as free gifts) and health or nutrition claims. All restrictions on product advertising will apply equally to product sponsorship.

“Based on the evidence and analysis we believe the case for intervention is clear. We will introduce significant but proportionate measures to protect children under 16,” said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards.