Six in 10 food adverts during family TV shows, such as The Simpsons, push junk food.

That's according to a new report, based on research conducted at the University of Liverpool.

It shows that adverts during family TV shows are for junk food, such as fast food, takeaways and confectionery.

The same adverts would be banned from children's TV under regulations, which prohibit the advertising of food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) during programmes aimed at children.

However, loopholes in these regulations mean that the most popular programmes with children, even those marketed as 'family programmes', do not have the same safeguards. This is despite the fact that significantly more children are watching them than even the most popular children's TV programmes.

Commissioned by the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) the report, entitled A 'Watershed' Moment: Why it's Prime Time to Protect Children from Junk Food Adverts, is based on data collected and analysed by Drs Emma Boyland and Rosa Whalen from the University's Appetite and Obesity research group. The report examines the extent of this problem and offers possible solutions.

Previous studies by this research group have demonstrated that television food advertising exposure alters children's food preferences in the direction of high fat, high sugar snack foods and also increases their consumption of these sorts of foods.

The new study examined the TV advertising around five TV programmes aimed at families broadcast on different UK television channels. The programmes were: The Voice (ITV), Ninja Warriors UK (ITV), Coronation Street (ITV), The Simpsons (Channel 4) and Hollyoaks (E4). Each have hundreds of thousands of child viewers per episode.

In the worst case examples, children were being bombarded with nine HFSS adverts in just a 30 minute period.

Based on average viewing figures, children watching these programmes regularly would see more than 2,000 HFSS adverts every year.

In comparison fruit and vegetables were promoted in just 1% of food and drink adverts shown around these programmes.

The report provides a number of solutions to this issue including extending existing regulations to restrict HFSS advertising on TV to cover programming beyond that made only for children.

Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance Lead, said: 'The rules to protect children from junk food advertising on TV are ten years old. They weren't strong enough then and they are definitely not fit for purpose now as they only cover 27% of children's viewing time.'