London Mayor to Ban Junk Food Advertising on Tubes and Buses

If Sadiq Khan’s proposal passes consultation, adverts promoting high fat, salt, or sugar foods will no longer be allowed on public transport.
May 11, 2018, 1:39pm
Photo via Flickr user mrgarethm

The post-geography lesson chips. A Happy Meal lunch in between periods. Noticing your dad on his third beer of the evening and exploiting the opportunity to order a 12-inch Veggie Supreme with his credit card. When you’re a teen, junk food can sometimes be a godsend.

However adverts promoting junk food could soon be banned across London’s public transport network, the Mayor of London has said today, in a bid to tackle childhood obesity.


Sadiq Khan announced the proposed ban in an article in the Evening Standard, describing it as way to deal with the “ticking time bomb” of childhood obesity across the city, where 40 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds are either overweight or obese, according to City Hall.

“We know that children are particularly susceptible,” he wrote in the piece, “and that exposure to junk food advertisements can create extra pressure on children and families when it comes to choosing what to eat and drink.”

If Khan’s proposal passes its consultation period, any adverts selling food with a high salt, sugar, or fat content would be banned from London buses, tubes, overground trains, and bus shelters. However, ads from fast food restaurants or companies wouldn’t be outlawed altogether, meaning that Diet Coke or a grilled chicken salad from McDonald’s could still be advertised.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, London regional director for Public Health England, told MUNCHIES that the body supports the move by Khan. “I am delighted that London is once again leading the way with innovative plans to tackle high levels of child obesity,” she explained. “This proposal would be the largest of its kind in the world, given the size of the Transport for London estate, and the first of a number of big steps which London has committed to deliver under the devolution deal.”

However, some organisations don’t believe the ban on junk food ads will get to the heart of the problem. Sarah Le Brocq, director of Hoop UK, a national charity that helps people overcome obesity, told MUNCHIES: “We do agree that banning junk food ads will be great to some extent, but it's not the answer.”

She continued: “Although food is a big part of it, it's not the only reason the obesity epidemic is happening. A lot of it is about the person, and understanding why they might be in that situation. Yes, removing temptation is great, but we're not battling why someone is obese in the first place.”

Grilled chicken salad, anyone?