Medical chiefs have warned that relaxing the rules governing product placement on television will worsen the UK’s child obesity problem.

The British Medical Assocation has written to the Department of Culture, Media & Sport to raise its concerns over the move, which aims to boost revenues for commercial broadcasters.

“The BMA is deeply concerned about the decision to allow any form of product placement in relation to alcohol, gambling and foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) as this will reduce the protection of young people from harmful marketing influences and adversely impact on public health,” the body wrote.

“Product placement [blurs] the distinction between advertising and editorial and is not always recognisable. Studies show children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a subconscious level.”