The UK games industry has swiftly responded to the negative representation of a young gamer in a Change4Life print ad which forms part of a new Department of Health campaign.
The Director of games trade body ELSPA, Michael Rawlinson said in a statement:
"When we became aware of the adverts we were surprised as they contradicted much of the discussion that we had enjoyed with the Department of Health. We immediately called for an urgent meeting with its officials responsible for Change4Life.
"Following that meeting we have been informed that the ads are the responsibility of the NGOs listed. We are now taking the matter up with these organisations and informing them of the responsible position taken by the industry as demonstrated on our Ask About Games website."
Diabetes UK defends ad
TechRadar contacted The Gate, the agency responsible for the ad and we were asked to speak directly to their client, Diabetes UK.
Andy James, Director of Relationships and Marketing at Diabetes UK and spokesperson on behalf of the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK Change4Life partnership, said in response to the games industry's criticisms:
"We're surprised at this reaction to our campaign to tackle childhood obesity.
"Obesity is a massive risk to our nation's health, and a growing problem for children in the UK. If current trends continue, a staggering nine out of ten of today's children will be overweight in 2050 – leading to an increased risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and certain cancers in later life.
"Of course we are not saying that children should not play computer games - but we are saying that children need a balanced and active lifestyle.
"Our campaign aims to increase awareness of the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle and give parents the information they need to make informed choices. Designed with input from parents, our adverts examining diet and exercise inform parents that children need an hour of physical activity every day to reduce their risk of becoming overweight or obese as an adult."
Sony to take legal action?
Meanwhile, there are rumours that Sony is considering legal action over the unauthorised use of a PlayStation controller in the campaign.
'Risk an early death. Just do nothing' is the strapline to the ad, which has been criticised from all corners of the UK games industry, with industry trade journal MCV fronting the campaign, which has already been backed by the likes of Sega, Atari, developers trade body TIGA and TechRadar publisher, Future Publishing.
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