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Healthier Food Advertising spreading in London

Updated: Feb 8

One fifth of all London councils now have a healthy advertising policy. The Newham Council becomes latest London borough to welcome in restrictions on unhealthy food advertising as they build the policy into a drive on tackling health inequalities.

Several other local authorities across the UK have introduced a policy: Haringey, Southwark, Merton, Greenwich, Bristol, Barnsley and Tower Hamlets.

Mayor Fiaz and her Cabinet have approved a Healthier Advertising Policy that means all advertising spaces controlled by Newham Council will be free from adverts for foods high in fat, salt and sugar. The Policy is an example of the local authority’s ‘one council approach’, which ensures all services are working towards the shared goal of tackling health inequalities. It is also supported by overwhelming data and work with partners.

The decision builds on ongoing efforts to avoid the promotion of less healthy products in the borough. The Council is fully aware that children growing up in more deprived areas are more likely to be exposed to this, contributing to higher rates of obesity and fuelling avoidable differences in health.

The approach supports the Building a Fairer Newham corporate plan and various other strategies aimed at making the borough a people-friendly healthy environment where every individual can thrive.

Councillor Neil Wilson, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “The Newham Healthier Food Advertising Policy puts people first. It enables an immediate and objective assessment of advertisements containing food, based on the contents of those adverts.  It offers no bar to any company and has been shown to have a strong influence not only on what companies choose to advertise, but also the nature of the products they choose to sell.

“We want all residents to know we are prioritising their health and wellbeing, even when big firms are willing to spend large sums of money. This approach will send out a clear message that food must be advertised appropriately.

“Evidence shows that advertisements for unhealthy food and drink products directly and indirectly impact what we eat.  Young people who recall seeing junk food adverts every day are more likely to be obese. This policy is about setting positive examples for everyone, including the next generation.”

Newham Council has noted how several other authorities, as well as Transport for London, have benefited from similar approaches. They have demonstrated how advertising revenues can be successfully maintained and grown whilst restricting the advertising of food high in fat, salt and sugar.  Research by the University of Sheffield and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the restrictions applied by TfL networks prevented nearly 100,000 obesity cases. Evidence also shows advertising revenues across the TfL estate rose by £2.3m, the first year after implementing the policy.

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