London plans to ban junk food advertising on public transport

A traditional London bus in London, Britain.
A traditional London bus in London, Britain.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Junk food advertising could be banned from the entire Transport for London (TfL) network under proposals announced by Mayor Sadiq Khan, as he tries to tackle rising levels of childhood obesity in the city.

"I want to reduce the influence and pressure that can be put on children and families to make unhealthy choices," Khan said in a statement announcing the proposals to ban advertisements for unhealthy food and drink on London's trains, buses and bus shelters.

The mayor also proposed a ban on new hot food takeaway stores opening within 400 metres of schools.

London has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in Europe - nearly 40 per cent of 10-11 year-olds in the capital are overweight or obese, according to the statement.

Children from poorer areas are disproportionately affected by the "obesity epidemic," Khan said, adding that young people from Barking and Dagenham in East London are almost twice as likely to be overweight as children from the upmarket Richmond neighborhood.

The proposals announced on Friday (May 11) would use an already established nutrient profiling system to determine whether a food or drink is high in fat, salt and sugar.

The model is currently used by the UK's Advertising Standards Authority and its communications regulator Ofcom.

Other cities which have introduced similar measures include Amsterdam, which brought in a ban on adverts for unhealthy food on its transport network at the start of this year.