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Worse not Better; TfL’s Junk Food Ban Fails to Tackle Childhood Obesity as Epidemic Grows

A new report published today exposes the failings of the TfL junk food ad ban and reveals that childhood obesity continues to grow in the capital. The report calls on the Mayor to produce an urgent action plan to address the startling drop in children at a healthy weight.


The report, Food For Thought: The TfL Junk Food Ad Ban and the Mayor’s Failure to tackle child obesity in London, published by GLA Conservative Health Spokesperson Emma Best AM, finds that:


  • The advertising ban brought in to tackle childhood obesity has failed.

  • The ban does not stop food such as cheeseburgers being advertised on the network as it had intended to.

  • The one-year review of this policy did not happen and research into the policy’s effectiveness was published two years late in February 2022.

  • The results themselves are misleading as the research did not capture information about food purchased and consumed outside of the home (such as from fast food outlets and restaurants).

  • Further research to capture this data must be conducted to effectively evaluate the policy, the rules governing the ban revisited and an urgent action plan implemented to tackle London’s childhood obesity epidemic.


Emma Best, London Wide Assembly Member comments:


“Childhood obesity in London is rising, both in reception and year 6 children. The TfL junk food ad ban was specifically designed as a “groundbreaking measure” to tackle childhood obesity and it has not worked.


The health of our children is too important to pretend that it has. We cannot celebrate false ‘wins’ of the ban when it has not even slightly solved the problem. Especially as the study cited as proving the ban’s effectiveness, does not cover the purchase and consumption of fast foods from restaurants and takeaways, consumed outside of the home, and instead relies on dodgy metrics to justify any positive results.


If the Mayor wants to pursue this policy, he needs to urgently review the advertising criteria used to enforce the ban. More importantly he must take urgent action on proven strategies to improve the health of London’s children.”


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