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Junk food ads banned across Southwark Council’s advertising network

19 June 2019

Southwark Council has become the latest council to take a stand against childhood obesity and ban the advertising of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) products in the borough on council-owned advertising sites.

From Monday 1 July adverts promoting any food and drink products which are HFSS according to Public Health England’s Nutrient Profiling Model will be banned for all new advertising contracts, including renewals of leases.

The ban will cover all Southwark Council controlled advertising spaces, which include electronic displays, smart benches and large hoardings boards, around the borough.

Obesity is undeniably one of the biggest health challenges facing the nation. In Southwark we have amongst the highest rates of childhood obesity across England. Almost 40 per cent of 10-11 year olds in Southwark are overweight or obese.  This continues into adulthood with just under 60 per cent of the adult population are overweight or obese.

This move by Southwark Council builds on Transport for London’s decision earlier in the year to implement a junk food ban across the whole TfL estate. 
Southwark Council has taken the ban one step further to extend the ban to include alcoholic drinks due to the high level of alcohol related hospital admissions due to accident and injury. Southwark Council’s new policy also includes tobacco products, nudity, sexual messaging services , gambling, betting and hateful or discriminatory content to further support the overall health and wellbeing of Southwark’s residents.

A report published in 2018 by Cancer Research UK highlighted that young people who recalled seeing junk food adverts every day were more than twice as likely to be obese.

The same study also found that 87 per cent of young people found adverts for high fat, salt and sugar products appealing with three quarters tempted to eat a product after seeing such an advert.

This policy complements other initiatives in place in the borough including ongoing work with local caterers and retailers to provide affordable, good quality, healthy options across the borough.

Southwark is also piloting superzones which introduce a healthier 400m radius around schools.

Cllr Evelyn Akoto, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Public Health said: “It is difficult to deny the link between increased fast food advertising and childhood obesity, greater exposure to the advertising of unhealthy foods has been shown to increase the consumption of these foods. I want to reduce unhealthy food advertising and at the same time encourage children and young people, families and carers to buy healthier options as well as cook more healthily.

"What I want to see is the promotion of healthier products rather than the advertising of sugary drinks and high fat, sugar and salty foods.’ As a borough with high rates of both child and adult obesity, I want to tackle this matter head-on by making the healthier choice the easier choice for everyone.”

Page last updated: 19 June 2019