Stars such as Gary Lineker and David Beckham face losing lucrative marketing deals if the Department of Health discussion document is put into effect. It advises that "role models for children should not be used to endorse ... products [which are high in fat, salt or sugar] ... to children", according to The Sunday Times. Also affected would be film tie-ins where animated blockbusters are used to promote products such as breakfast cereals.

The proposals were drafted by the Food Standards Agency, which is reviewing a voluntary code for cinema ads, the internet and packaging aimed at under-12s. Broadcasting regulator Ofcom will announce its plans for similar restrictions on TV within the next few weeks.

Characters such as Ronald McDonald, the mascot for the McDonald's chain, would escape such a ban. The document draws a distinction between characters created for brands and those licensed from cinema and TV.