Junk Food Ads Banned From London Tube And Bus Stops In Bid To Tackle Obesity

40% of 10-11 year olds in the capital are overweight or obese.

Londoners will no longer see adverts for burgers and sugary drinks on their morning commute because junk food advertising will soon be banned on the entire Transport for London (TfL) network.

The new rules will come into place from 25 February 2019 as part of measures to help tackle child obesity, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, confirmed on Friday.

The decision follows a public consultation launched in May which found overwhelming support from Londoners for a ban, covering all adverts for food and non-alcoholic drinks high in fat, salt or sugar and considered “less healthy” under Public Health England guidelines.

Examples of products that would not be accepted 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 which promote their healthier products, rather than publicising their wider brands.

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

London has one of the highest child overweight and obesity rates in Europe, with almost 40 per cent of the capital’s children aged 10 and 11 overweight or obese.

Children from more deprived 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.

This week, new figures from Diabetes UK revealed a huge rise in the number of children and young people across the country diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Nearly 7,000 young Britons are now suffering with the disease, linked to obesity.

While on Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority banned two adverts from McDonald’s and Burger for “inappropriately targeting children”, due to their placement on bus stops close to schools.


Commenting ahead of the new rulings, Sadiq Khan said: “Child obesity is putting the lives of young Londoners at risk and placing huge pressure on our already strained health service.

“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.”

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

Jamie Oliver described the junk food advert ban as “an amazing move from the Mayor and TfL”.

“They’ve got overwhelming support from Londoners who’ve said loud and clear they want a transport system with healthier ads and messages. Yes London!” he said.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall added: “When it comes to tackling childhood obesity, we need to pull all the levers possible, which is why I’m delighted to hear that not only are the Mayor of London and TFL removing junk food ads on their network, but they’re actually going to promote vegetables instead! This is a real victory for veg; let’s hope TFL paves the way for others to follow.”