London mayor bans junk food in adverts on transport networks

The City of London has decided to ban junk food in adverts on its public transport system in efforts to tackle childhood obesity, Olive Oil Times reported on 20 March.

“Childhood obesity is putting the lives of young Londoners at risk and placing huge pressure on our already strained health service,” London mayor Sadiq Khan said. “It is absolutely imperative that we take tough action against this ticking time bomb now, and reducing exposure to junk food advertising has a role to play in this.”

The ad ban, that was announced in November and took effect on 25 February, prevents the appearance of food and drinks that are high in fat, sugar, or salt (HFSS), in advertisements on the Transport for London (TfL) network.

The ban is Khan’s response to Public Health England’s research, which found that more than 37% of children in London age 10 and 11 are overweight, Olive Oil Times reported.

The move, which has been endorsed by the Obesity Health Alliance and other groups as well as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, uses a nutrient profiling model score which is managed by Public Health England.

The profiling model produces a score for a product based on its nutritional contents in 100g to determine whether or not it is a HFSS product. This means that cooking ingredients such as olive oil and butter will face the advertisement ban, wrote Olive Oil Times.

A Tfl spokesperson said olive oil was a HFSS food, meaning it could not be shown in adverts. However, an exemption from the ad ban was almost certain with proper justification.

The spokesperson confirmed TfL has not yet received any exception applications for olive oil.

The London mayor’s move comes after the UK launched a consultation on junk food promotions in January to tackle price promotions for HFSS foods.