The Department of Health's suggestion that a food marketing code banning less healthy foods at children's eye level in stores has been branded as ludicrous and confrontational by retailers.

The report, Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: One Year On, commended retailers on their efforts to promote healthier eating but suggested that a set of measures may need to be introduced to combat children's exposure to less healthy foods. Among suggestions is the placing of products away from children's view. However, British Retail Consortium (BRC) food director Andrew Opie said: "Rules about which products should go on which shelves would be seriously misguided. It's parents who buy children's food. The idea is ludicrous."

ACS public affairs director Shane Brennan said: "There's a lot to be achieved by voluntary action and many retailers are already doing something to promote healthy eating, such as participating in the Change4Life campaign.

"We're concerned that the government is moving in a direction that could be restrictive and confrontational to retailers."