Phil Smith, the chief executive of ISBA, which represents leading advertisers, said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that the Prime Minister is seeking to ignore the evidence and implement wide ranging advertising restrictions as part of the obesity strategy.
“Brands have partnered effectively with Government over the lockdown period to support, develop and amplify public health campaigns as well as safeguard and support employees.
“Just as business begins to chart a course back from the severe impacts of Covid-19, such an ill-thought out policy cuts across Treasury efforts to support the sector and risks jobs and livelihoods.”
Stephen Woodford, the chief executive of the Advertising Association, said the Government’s own research had shown that “such restrictions would have minimal impact on obesity levels”.
Critics are also likely to point out that a Government subsidy that will make all restaurant meals half price on certain days of the week in August could encourage people to eat more than they usually would.
Among other measures being discussed by ministers are a ban on sweets and chocolate being promoted at the end of supermarket aisles or at tills.
New legislation will be needed to enact the proposed changes, meaning it is likely to be months or even years before they take effect.