Junk food advertising will be banned from the entire Transport for London (TfL) network under bold proposals unveiled today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as part of his drive to tackle child obesity.
London has one of the highest child overweight and obesity rates in Europe, with almost 40% of children aged 10 and 11 overweight or obese.
Children from poorer areas of the capital are disproportionately affected, with young people in Barking and Dagenham almost twice as likely to be overweight as children from Richmond.
Responding to the announcement, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said:
"Obesity is having a huge impact on communities up and down the country, particularly those living in deprived areas, and one of the leading contributors for its growth is advertising. We know junk food advertising influences children’s food choices and children from deprived communities are more likely to be exposed to junk food marketing. It is therefore vital, especially in cities like London where deprivation is high, that it is tackled. This bold move from the Mayor of London is congratulated by the RCPCH. It gives a clear example of how others can utilise their powers to protect child health in their own communities and we urge others to follow suit.
"We know healthy children are much more likely to develop into healthy adults and with the bill for obesity weighing in at just over £5 billion, it is clear that action is needed if we are to reverse this trend. By coming together in a joint letter just last week, politicians from all parties demonstrated that tackling childhood obesity is something that unites them. This is to be applauded but they now need to implement policies, as in London, so we begin to see a reduction in obesity rates across the country. Centrally, Government has a real opportunity to be world leaders in obesity prevention with the upcoming publication of its child obesity strategy.
"We need them to show they are serious about protecting child health by banning junk food advertising on television before the 9pm watershed but going one step further, by exploring how we can protect children from these adverts online and on social media too."