Junk food advertising could be banned from the entire Transport for London (TfL) network under proposals unveiled by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as part of his drive to tackle the ‘ticking timebomb’ of child obesity.
London reportedly has one of the highest child overweight and obesity rates in Europe, with almost 40% of children aged ten and 11 overweight or obese.
Khan believes it is a scandal that so many children are overweight or obese in a city as prosperous as London, and is calling on the Government to treat the issue as a priority by joining him in the fight against child obesity.
He is consulting on proposals to ban advertisements for unhealthy food and drink that are high in fat, salt or sugar across the entire TfL estate, including the London Underground, London Overground and the capital’s buses and bus shelters, as part of a package of measures to take on child obesity.
Research by the National Centre for Social Research and Cancer Research UK has shown that advertising of unhealthy foods – particularly when aimed at children – creates extra pressure on children and families when it comes to choosing what to eat and drink.
Khan said: “Child obesity in London is a ticking timebomb and I am determined to act. If we don’t take bold steps against it we are not doing right by our young people as well as placing a huge strain on our already pressurised health service in years to come.
“I’m 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’m proposing to ban adverts for harmful junk food from our entire Tube and bus network. I want to reduce the influence and pressure that can be put on children and families to make unhealthy choices.”
He concluded: “The Government needs to step up and join this fight against child obesity, so we can achieve real progress – not just in London, but across the entire country.”
It is not yet clear exactly which products will lose advertising space under Khan’s proposals but pictures of McDonald’s meals were widely circulated in the national press alongside stories related to the announcement.