CHEESEBURGERS, sugary drinks, crisps, chocolate and chips are all in the sights of the SNP.

The Scottish Government has called on Westminster to ban TV advertising of fatty foods in a bid to tackle soaring childhood obesity rates.

Michael Matheson, the Public Health Minister, is backing the introduction of a pre-9pm watershed for ads that would target fast-food producers.

The Coalition Government, however, currently appears lukewarm about the plan.

Successive governments north of the Border have implemented sweeping measures on public health.

The previous Labour-led Scottish Executive was the first administration in the UK to ban smoking in public places.

The SNP's minimum pricing legislation is also considered to be a groundbreaking plan to address the country's relationship with alcohol.

Now ministers believe radical measures are required to help improve children's eating habits.

There are currently UK-wide restrictions which prevent adverts for fatty food being broadcast during programmes specifically aimed at children. However, the rules exclude other programmes watched by kids, such as soaps.

Matheson, a minister in Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon's department, wants the loophole closed by banning all such adverts before 9pm and has written to the UK Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, urging him to support the move.

He said: "Broadcast advertising influences the choices made by children and can shape their attitudes to food as they grow into adulthood. Tackling obesity and encouraging people to make healthier life choices is one of the most important things we can do to improve the health of our nation."

He added: "That's why we want to introduce a pre-watershed ban and are looking to the UK Government to support such a move which would carry the additional benefit of encouraging our partners in the food industry to reformulate their produce to lower salt, fat and sugar content."

The ban would span TV and radio, and companies such as Burger King and McDonald's could be affected by the policy.

Matheson's call has been influenced by research from Newcastle University which suggests that, despite existing restrictions on TV adverts, children are exposed to the same levels of advertising for fatty and salty foods.

Although Matheson has contacted Lansley about the idea, it is the UK Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport that has responded.

A DCMS spokesman said: "The Government continues to keep this area under review and recognises that there are calls for increased restrictions on HFSS [high fat, salt and sugar] food and drink advertising.

"However, it is widely accepted that advertising has a modest, direct effect on children's food choices and is just one aspect in determining children's choice of food.

"The Government believes the current rules are a proportionate and balanced contribution to the wider range of measures aimed at tackling childhood obesity and poor diet."

Jane Landon, deputy chief executive of the National Heart Forum, said: "We welcome the public health minister's call on the UK Government to restrict unhealthy food advertising before 9pm.

"The existing rules have delivered protections in principle, but not in practice. The current crisis in children's dietary health urgently demands bolder measures."

Dr Sally Winning, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland, said: "Whilst the advertising of unhealthy foodstuffs, including inappropriate sponsorship of programmes and events targeted at school children is already regulated, it should be noted that many of the TV programmes most watched by children are not children's programmes, and so further consideration must be given to addressing this."

A spokeswoman for McDonald's said: "We abide by all advertising standards and don't advertise products to children which are high in fat sugar or salt at any time of the day."