Food advertisements with a strong appeal to children must adhere to a new code launched by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) today.

The Children's Code for Advertising Food was the result of a year-long review of three-year-old codes by the ASA with submissions from the Ministry of Health and other health groups, food standards and nutrition organisations, Otago University's marketing department, and food companies, including McDonalds.

ASA said the code required advertisers to take special care with advertising food that appealed to children, to uphold the role of parents in educating their children to have a balanced diet, and not to mislead about the nutritional value of food.

The new code reflected a desire from the Government, food industry and other groups to "work collectively in the best interests of children's health", ASA excutive director Hilary Souter said.

Advertisers must also not promote inactive or unhealthy lifestyles or undermine the importance of consuming a variety of foods, ASA said.