America's food firms stand accused of "aggressive and sophisticated marketing techniques" to foist unhealthy fare onto children.
Behind this latest attack on the promotion of high-fat foods is the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is campaigning for a clampdown on the advertising of such snacks to children.
The CSPI's new report, Pestering parents: how food companies market obesity to children, attacks the marketing activities of companies such as Kraft, Campbell's Soup, Pizza Hut, Krispy-Kreme, Channel One and PepsiCo.
It argues that the self-regulation of advertising is not working, and calls on the government and teachers to combat the promotion of high-fat foods on television, in schools, in print and online.
In particular, the report wants Congress to give the Federal Trade Commission powers "to develop and implement nutrition standards for foods that can be advertised and marketed to children and limit advertising and marketing for foods that do not meet these standards."
The CSPI also wants a campaign from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to encourage healthier diets and exercise regimes.
Representatives of the advertising and food industries hit out at the report. Dan Jaffe, executive vp of the Association of National Advertisers, argued that outlawing ads would be unconstitutional, adding: "[A] ban on speech will not solve the obesity problem."
Grocery Manufacturers of America agreed that the CSPI was missing the point by "narrowly focusing on advertising and marketing."
It continued: "Food and beverage manufacturers are committed to responsible advertising, especially when it comes to children. We have an important role to play in addressing obesity, and we are doing our part by introducing a growing number of nutritious foods, reducing portion sizes and supporting enhanced nutrition labeling."
Data sourced from: AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff