Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has today confirmed that junk food advertising will be banned across the entire Transport for London network from 25 February 2019.
The groundbreaking ban will be implemented on all transport controlled by TfL, including the underground, overground, London buses, trams and river services, and will stop companies from advertising foods that are high in sugar, fat or salt, under guidelines from Public Health England.
It will also prevent food and drink brands and restaurants and takeaway services from advertising their brand alone, instead requiring them to promote healthier products.
The revolutionary step comes after a public consultation that began in May found Londoners were in overwhelming support of the ban, with the number of overweight or obese children in the capital on the rise.
“Child obesity is putting the lives of young Londoners at risk and placing huge pressure on our already strained health service," Khan said.
"It is absolutely imperative that we take tough action against this ticking timebomb now, and 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.
“It’s clear that advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make, whether we realise it or not, and Londoners have shown overwhelming support for a ban on adverts for junk food and drink on our transport network.
“It’s completely unacceptable that in a city as prosperous as London, where you live and the amount you earn can have a massive impact on whether you have access to healthy, nutritious food. I’m determined to change this.”
London has one of the highest rates of child obesity in Europe, with almost 40 per cent of the capital’s children aged 10 and 11 overweight or obese. While studies have shown that children from more deprived areas of the capital are disproportionately affected and more likely to fall into one of those categories.
A study by Cancer Research UK found that children who were exposed to higher levels of junk food advertising were more likely to become overweight or obese and that 87 per cent of young people found those same adverts appealing.
TfL generate around £147m a year from advertising and around £13m of that comes from food adverts that look set to be banned going forward.
The move from the Mayor comes after a similar ban was implemented in Amsterdam earlier this year, which has so far had a positive impact.
Jamie Oliver, who is a long-term advocate for encouraging children to eat healthily, said: "This is an amazing move from the Mayor and TfL, and they've got overwhelming support from Londoners who've said loud and clear they want a transport system with healthier ads and messages.”