The U.K. Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has issued a statement urging regulators to prohibit all TV advertising for foods high in sugar, fat or salt before the 9 p.m. watershed. Citing a 2003 Food Standards Agency review that allegedly measured the impact of food promotion on children, RCPCH President Hilary Cass reportedly said that the current regulations are too weak to protect young viewers from “commercial exploitation.”

“Although they are trying to avoid junk food advertising around specific children’s program, you’ve still got it around soaps and other programs that children watch,” Cass was quoted as saying. “So the only realistic way to do it is to have no junk food advertising before the watershed in any programs at all.”

RCPCH has endorsed the International Obesity Taskforce’s Sydney principles “for achieving a substantial level of protection for children against the commercial promotion of foods and beverages.” These principles include, among other things, a recommendation for regulatory action as opposed to industry self-regulation. The U.K. Advertising Association, however, has since rebuffed the RCPCH’s statement, claiming that it does not reflect the most current data on the issue. “This call for a watershed ignores the academic evidence and risks overlooking the real causes of childhood obesity,” the association’s director of public affairs told the press. “Advertising in the U.K. has exemplary record in complying with one of the strictest regulatory regimes in Europe, and is already playing its part with constructive changes to the volume, visibility and content of food ads.”