London Mayor Sadiq Khan plans TfL ‘junk food’ advert ban

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If the plan goes ahead, “junk food” adverts will be banned on the Underground, Overground and bus network

Junk food advertising could be banned across the entire Transport for London (TfL) network, City Hall has announced.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says he wants to tackle the “ticking time bomb” of child obesity in the capital.

If the proposal is approved, adverts for “unhealthy food and drink” will be banned on the London Underground, Overground, buses and bus shelters.

The scheme is backed by child health experts. The Advertising Association said it would have little impact.

The junk food advertising ban forms part of Mr Khan’s London Food Strategy, which has been published for consultation.

Lilli Matson, director of TfL’s transport strategy, said TfL had a “large advertising estate with a diverse audience”, and is supporting the mayor’s attempts to make London healthier.

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Sadiq Khan has described London’s child obesity issue as a ‘ticking time bomb’

Mr Khan wants to “to reduce the influence and pressure that can be put on children and families to make unhealthy choices.”

He said: “I am determined to do all I can to tackle this issue with the powers I have and help Londoners make healthy food choices for themselves and their families.

“That is why I am proposing to ban adverts for harmful junk food from our entire Tube and bus network.”

Mr Khan intends to ban adverts for food and drinks high in fat, salt or sugar.

Chef and health campaigner Mr Oliver – who has said London “now has the most overweight and obese children of any major global city” – described the proposal as “bold”.

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City Hall says the capital has one of the highest child overweight and obesity rates in Europe, with almost 40% of children aged 10 and 11 either overweight or obese.

It has identified “stark differences” between boroughs, with children from poorer areas “disproportionately affected”.

Young people in Barking and Dagenham are almost twice as likely to be overweight as children from Richmond-upon-Thames, it says.

Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said advertising was “one of the leading contributors for the growth of child obesity”, adding: “It is therefore vital, especially in cities like London where deprivation is high, that it is tackled.”

‘Independent research’

An Advertising Association spokesperson said the UK already bans advertising of high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) food or drink products in all media where under 16s make up more than 25% of the audience.

He added that for outdoor advertising, such as posters on the Underground, there is a recommendation that no sites can carry HFSS advertising within 100m of any school.

“International experience and independent research has shown an advertising ban would have little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity,” he said.