JUNK food advertising is to be banned across all children's media - including online and social - in a landmark decision to help tackle childhood obesity.

The new rules will ban the advertising of food or drink high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) across all non-broadcast media targeted at under-16s from July next year - but Scottish obesity campaigners warned that "unnecessary loopholes" mean high numbers of children will continue to be exposed to marketing for unhealthy products.

The changes, announced today by the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), will ban adverts promoting an HFSS product from appearing in children's media or other media where children make up more than a quarter of the audience.

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The new restrictions will apply across the UK and bring print, cinema, online and social media into line with existing restrictions on television.

Obesity Action Scotland welcomed the move, but warned that many youngsters access popular social media sites despite the “official” age restrictions.

Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said “The new proposals only go part way towards tackling the relentless exposure to junk food our children face. By including a condition that at least 25 per cent of an audience must consist of children, many popular social media sites and other sources of advertising will not be covered.”

Similar shortcomings have already been criticised in the restrictions around television commercials for junk food, which also only apply to children's channels and programmes.

Jenny Rosborough, campaign manager at Action on Sugar, called for restrictions to be extended to programmes such as X Factor, which are hugely popular with children but exempt from advertising restrictions.

She said: "We know that advertising influences children's food preferences. However, we need to see bans on advertising go further, as they currently do not manage exposure to these adverts during popular family programmes such as the X Factor or Britain's Got Talent."

Professor Neena Modi, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said the existing television restrictions should include all pre-watershed broadcasting.

"There are shows which are not specifically targeted at children, that draw in thousands of children every week, and often have fast food adverts shown multiple times over the course of the broadcast," said Prof Modi.

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CAP said the new ban would help protect the health and wellbeing of children. Chairman James Best said: "Childhood obesity is a serious and complex issue and one that we're determined to play our part in tackling. These restrictions will significantly reduce the number of ads for high, fat, salt or sugar products seen by children."