Junk food ad ban ‘gimmick’ costing TfL £25m in lost revenue

City Hall is moving to tackle child obesity by banning junk food adverts
City Hall is moving to tackle child obesity by banning junk food adverts

A new report is calling on Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to scrap his junk food advert ban on Transport for London (TfL) networks.

Mr Khan banned adverts for junk food – those high in salt, sugar and fat – on 25 February this year in a bid to reduce childhood obesity rates across the Capital.

But a new report by Conservative London Assembly Member Andrew Boff has called on Mr Khan to scrap the ban – which the report estimates to have cost £25million in lost revenue – and use TfL advertising space to promote healthy eating and exercise.

Mr Boff said: “With nearly a quarter of children across England overweight or obese before by the time they are just five years old, there can be no doubt that we need to take urgent measures to help our young people live healthier lives.

“This Mayor’s scattergun approach to this issue amounts to nothing more than pointless virtue signalling.

“His colossally wasteful and ineffective TfL junk food ad ban is simply a pointless PR stunt which all the evidence shows will do nothing to tackle childhood obesity.”

Mr Khan has allocated £494,000 to tackle childhood obesity in 2019, with £170,000 given to London’s primary schools – an equivalent of £68 per school.

But the report suggests more work should be done to tackle obesity at a “grassroots” level by working with schools and councils to teach children and parents about the importance of nutrition and how to cook healthy foods.

The report makes a number of other recommendations, including saying that Mr Khan should commission further research into childhood obesity as well as undertaking a study which looks at retail units across TfL networks and how many of these sell foods high in fat, salt or sugar.

Mr Boff added: “Putting Khan’s gimmicky policies to one side, he has committed a paltry amount to actually dealing with sky-high childhood obesity levels.

“If he scrapped his TfL ad ban, he could use just some of the retained income to invest in a targeted, grassroot level approach which would bring schools, councils and community organisations together.”