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The UK government is investigating fresh curbs on junk food advertising on social media in an effort to contain spiraling levels of obesity in Britain.

Reports in The Times suggest that among the options currently on the table is a blanket 9pm watershed for food and drink advertising for products high in sugar, salt and fat as well as measures to force restaurants to label unhealthy foods.

Such a regime would be significantly tighter than the present situation, which allows advertisers to promote unhealthy foods during hit shows such as The X Factor where children constitute fewer than a quarter of the total audience.

Disunity on the issue at the top of government is now thought to have been overcome with prime minister Theresa May and culture secretary Matt Hancock now said to be fully behind the idea, putting new vigour behind the measures, which could be finalised by the summer.

Until now the culture department is thought to have been resistant to change, fearful of the negative impact such laws might have on broadcasters’ advertising revenues but is now open to a tiered approach, perhaps with separate watershed restrictions for online and broadcast adverts.

Ministers are also reportedly considering a ban on targeted advertising at children on social media as well as specific measures to overhaul supermarket check outs, the energy drink sector and food labelling.

It is estimated that a third of children now leave primary school overweight with over 25% of the entire adult population now classed as overweight.

A recent study of sport sponsorship packages found that 76% promoted junk food.