The BMA said it was 'deeply concerned' about the decision to allow product placement of tobacco, alcohol and foods high in fat, sugar or salt. This would, it argued, reduce the protection of young people from harmful marketing influences and adversely impact on public health.
'By its nature product placement allows marketing to be integrated into programmes, blurring the distinction between advertising and editorial, and is not always recognisable,' the BMA said in its response to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's consultation on product placement on television.
'Studies show that children are particularly susceptible to embedded brand messages and these operate at a subconscious level,' it added.
The BMA believes there should be a complete ban on the advertising and marketing of unhealthy foodstuffs.
Such a ban should include, it said, product placement and inappropriate sponsorship programmes targeted at school children.
In addition, celebrities and children's television characters should only endorse healthy products that meet nutritional criteria laid down by the Food Standards Agency, the BMA said.