Research by Ipsos MORI for Unicef UK found that children in the UK feel “trapped” in a materialistic culture and do not spend enough time with their families.

Parents are making up for the time they lose out on together as a family by buying their children gadgets and branded clothes due to the pressure from society – and advertising – to own material goods, the research claims.

The report’s author Dr Agnes Nairn says fears about “brand bullying” are much stronger in the UK than in Sweden and Spain – the two comparator countries in the study – and that parents feel “compelled” to buy goods, even though they know much of the spending is “pointless”.

Unicef UK’s executive director David Bull says: “In response [to this research], the Government needs to show strong leadership by taking decisive action to help families fight back against the materialism and inequality that is so pervasive in the UK.

“They need to make sure parents earn enough to spend fewer hours in work and more time with their children, protect children’s play facilities from spending cuts and consider reforming the laws controlling advertising to children.”

Advertising Association communications director Ian Barber sys the call for an ad ban was was based on “weak” evidence. Unicef surveyed 250 kids in three counties.

He adds: “Two Government reports and evidence from parents say the same thing: we need supportive, proportionate regulation and responsible business to help kids learn about the commercial world as they grow up.”

Earlier this year, a government-backed report on the commercialisation of childhood by Mother’s Union chief executive Reg Bailey called for restrictions on advertising to children near schools and a ban on peer to peer marketing.