London’s ban on junk food advertising, which has been enforced across the city’s public transport since 25 February, should be extended throughout the UK to tackle its growing health crisis.
That’s according to Dr Stuart Flint, who is a leading health academic at Leeds Beckett University and says the move could help boost efforts to improve the health of Britain’s youngsters.
All buses, Tube and train networks run by Transport for London are now prohibited from displaying posters and adverts promoting food and drink that’s high in fat, sugar or salt.
The ban also applies to roundabouts, bus stops, taxis and trams.
“I cannot overstate the potential benefits of this policy,” says Dr Flint, who is a senior research fellow in public health and obesity at Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie School of Sport.
“Children from a very young age are exposed, via public transport and other forms of advertisements, to the promotion of unhealthy food and drinks.
“There’s no doubt that this influences attitudes among young people and thet are much more likely to consume them as a result.”
Dr Flint has called on local authorities across the country to follow London’s lead.
“This policy is needed across the UK – not just in London. Local authorities should be considering and the potential impact it could have on child and adult health nationally.
“Junk food companies are well aware of the impact of advertising their products on and around transport. They have a captive market on the transport network and this daily, constant exposure has a great impact on consumer attitudes and behaviour.
“These adverts work on a continuous and subconscious level. Banning these adverts nationwide will have enormous benefits – not just in relation to the high prevalance of obesity, but also in areas such as diabetes and poor dental health.
“Many of the companies affected by the ban claim to offer healthy alternatives. The ban doesn’t stop them from advertising healthier options.”