Junk food ad ban on tube reduces obesity

A tube in a tube station

According to research, the restriction of junk food advertising on Transport for London (TfL) services has prevented almost 100,000 cases of obesity.

The research from the University of Sheffield and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimates that the policy could save the NHS more than £200 million over the lifetime of the current population.

The researchers believe that the policy has directly led to 94,867 fewer obesity cases than expected, 2,857 fewer diabetes cases, and 1,915 fewer cases of cardiovascular disease.

The policy, which has been in place since 2019, restricts the advertisement of foods high in calories from sugar and fat or high in salt.

The research was carried out by assessing the effect of the policy by looking at what consumers are purchasing in their weekly food shops via surveys, and comparing trends in London to a control group of households outside London where there were no restrictions on advertising in place.

According to the research, in terms of preventing health conditions, the policy has had the biggest impact on people from deprived areas.

Dr Chloe Thomas, first author of the study from the University of Sheffield’s School of Health and Related Research, said: “We all know how persuasive and powerful advertising can be in influencing what we buy – especially the food we eat.

“Our study has shown what an important tool advertising restrictions can be in order to help people lead healthier lives without costing them more money.

“We hope that demonstrating the policy’s significant benefits in preventing obesity and the diseases exacerbated by obesity will lead to it being rolled out on a national scale.”

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