Authorities in London have taken affirmative action to ban adverts that promote junk food across the transport network.

From February 2019 onwards, travellers on the London Underground, overground, or at bus shelters will now receive less exposure to advertisements that seek to promote unhealthy products.

Food or non-alcoholic drinks that are considered to be “unhealthy” (containing high amounts of sugar, fat or salt) according to guidelines set by Public Health England will no longer be accepted. However, products which are unsalted or sugar-free are exempt, as are nuts and raisins.

How did this come into effect?

A public consultation in May last year resulted in 82 percent of 1,500 responses in favour of a ban. It means that restaurants, brands or delivery services have to ensure that adverts are promoting more healthier options.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, stated his intention to combat child obesity where London currently has the highest rates in Europe.

Approximately 40 percent of children aged between 10 and 11 in London are either overweight or obese.

It’s also been shown that poorer areas of London are more likely to suffer a greater rate of obesity than in affluent boroughs.

Khan said:

“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.”

This new rule impacts the majority of transport services from buses, taxi, private hires or the tube network. Even river services and roads controlled by the TFL are affected.

So, rest assured that the billboard image of a calorie-loaded, double cheeseburger which once pervaded your daily commute has now been banished into the history books.

However, this change hasn’t exactly been unanimously welcomed and greeted by all. The Advertising Association voiced their opinion that this ban would have “little impact on the wider societal issues that drive obesity”.

Furthermore, this ban has been estimated to cost the Transport for London around £13m per year, according to Conservative party members at City Hall. So, that will likely mean less available to spend on network infrastructure upgrades.

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