Junk food ads banned on London transport

30 November 2018

Adverts for junk food will be banned on the entire Transport for London (TfL) network, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has confirmed.


The ban, which will take place from 25 February 2019, is part of measures to tackle child obesity. 

It follows a public consultation launched in May that was supported by Londoners, with 82% of the 1500 consultation responses via the mayor’s online Talk London platform agreeing to the ban.

Examples of products that would not be accepted for advertisements are sugary drinks, cheeseburgers, chocolate bars and salted nuts, while unsalted nuts, raisins and sugar free drinks would be accepted.

Food and drink brands, restaurants, takeaways and delivery services will only be able to place adverts that promote their healthier products, rather than simply publicising brands.

The restrictions will apply to adverts on all modes of transport controlled by TfL, including the Underground, Overground, London buses, TfL rail, trams and river services.

Sadiq said that child obesity is putting the lives of young Londoners at risk and placing huge pressure on an already strained health service. 

‘It is absolutely imperative that we take tough action against this ticking time bomb 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,’ he said.

He added that it’s clear that advertising plays a huge part in the choices people make, whether they realise it or not, and Londoners have shown overwhelming support for a ban on adverts for junk food and drink on their 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,’ the mayor said.

With 30 million journeys made every day on TfL’s network, its advertising sites offer a key opportunity to promote good food and a healthy lifestyle to both children and their family members or carers. 

The mayor is supporting work to encourage healthy eating, including the ‘Veg Power’ campaign, led by the Food Foundation and backed by chefs and campaigners Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

It’s part of a wider drive to tackle child obesity, which includes the mayor setting up London’s first-ever Child Obesity Taskforce. The taskforce has committed to take action to help halve the percentage of London’s children who are overweight at the start of primary school and obese at the end of primary school by 2030, and to reduce the gap between child obesity rates in the richest and poorest areas in London.

It will publish its action plan to help achieve this in the New Year. Sadiq’s draft London Plan also outlines proposals to ban the opening of new hot food takeaways within 400 metres of the entrance or exit of existing, or proposed, primary and secondary schools.


Image credit | Shutterstock