Having presumably first obtained permission from the White House, UK prime minister Tony Blair yesterday confronted another alleged threat to the British nation - junk food advertising.

In a speech grandiloquently titled 'Our Nation's Future', Blair indicated that the government would legislate to enforce clear labelling of food and beverage content such as sugar, fat and salt if business fails to do so voluntarily.

Said the premier: "Now, and particularly where children are concerned, I have come to the conclusion we need to be tougher, more active in setting standards and enforcing them. We are working on a code with the food industry on limiting the advertising of junk food to children."

He then peeled-off the velvet glove. "But if by 2007, the voluntary code hasn't worked, we will make it mandatory."

Blair also opined that many of today's public health problems are not, strictly speaking, public health problems at all but "questions of individual lifestyle - obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, diabetes, sexually transmitted disease".

The ad industry was fast off its feet in reply. Assured Jeremy Preston, outgoing director of the Food Advertising Unit at the Advertising Association: "Our proposals will provide a tough but proportionate response.

"The current co-regulatory system has responded quickly and effectively to the government's challenge to change the balance and nature of food and soft drink advertising to children."

Concluded Preston: "The industry continues to be committed to working with the government on its wide range of initiatives, most notably on its healthy lifestyle campaign Small Change, Big Difference."

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff