Junk food adverts banned on London transport network

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Junk food advertising will be banned on the entire Transport for London (TfL) network from this date under groundbreaking measures to help tackle child obesity.

Under the scheme, posters for food and drink high in fat, salt and sugar will vanish from the Underground (Tube), Overground, buses and bus shelters, trams and river services.

Fast-food chains can still advertise but only if they promote their healthy products such as unsalted nuts, raisins and sugar-free drinks. They will not be allowed to simply promote their brand or generic logo, to avoid creating a loophole.

The decision follows a public consultation launched in May 2018 which found overwhelming support from Londoners for a ban.

London has one of the highest child overweight and obesity rates in Europe. Almost 40 per cent of the capital’s children aged 10-11 overweight or obese, with children from more deprived areas of the capital disproportionately affected.

Announcing the ban in Nov 2018 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for tough action against the "ticking time bomb" of child obesity in the capital. “Reducing exposure to junk food advertising has a role to play in this – not just for children, but parents, families and carers who buy food and prepare meals.”

Figures released from Diabetes UK that month revealed a huge rise in the number of children and young people across the UK diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Nearly 7,000 young Britons are now suffering with the disease, linked to obesity.

The TfL scheme has won support from child health experts including Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, who called it “an important step in the right direction.”

London is not alone in attempting to tackle the issue. Amsterdam recently introduced a similar advertising ban following a successful drive to reduce childhood obesity.

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Date written/update: 2019-01-17