Combatting Childhood Obesity in London
Childhood obesity has soared and become a major crisis across London. (Credit Thinkstock)
I spoke to London Assembly member Florence Eshalomi,to shed light on what is being done to tackle childhood obesity.
At last month’s question time with the Mayor, the critical issue of childhood obesity arose.
With major cuts along the NHS, many are starting wonder what is being done to stop the increasing pressure on NHS funds.
Along with this, the task of promoting healthier food choices and more physical activity for the youth was also being discussed.
According to recent statistics, the NHS spends approximately £5.1 billion on obesity per year but overall the figure is closer to £ 16bn.
With this in mind, it shows that increasing pressure on NHS funds for obesity could be minimized if measures are put in place to demote junk food and lack of exercise.
The introduction of the sugar tax and banning of junk food adverts on public transport, has shown to be quite effective however the issue is still at large.
With healthy foods usually being deemed more expensive and harder to obtain, whilst unhealthy foods are cheaper and more appealing, it seems that the route cause isn’t solely based on lack of exercise.
The vast range of cheap fast food restaurants available, which are within 400m of public schools is having an astonishing effect according to researchers.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s new planning strategy says fast food outlets should not be allowed to open within 400m of schools.
To gain more insight I met up with London assembly member, Florence Eshalomi, to break down the strategies being used, and highlight the facts.
More recently, Mayor Sadiq Khan has issued a ban on junk food adverts on the public transport network.
From the 25th February 2019, the restrictions will apply on all modes of transport controlled by TFL.
Food and drink brands, restaurants, takeaways and delivery services will only be able to place adverts which promote their healthier products, rather than simply publicising brands.
The Mayor’s online Talk London platform, which offers Londoners the chance to have their say on issues in the capital, alone received 1,500 consultation responses with 82 per cent supporting the proposals.
There is a growing body of evidence that the more children are exposed to advertising for less healthy foods, whether on TV, on the internet, or via outdoor advertising, the higher the risk of increasing their consumption of those foods and of becoming overweight or obese.
With 30 million journeys made every day on TfL’s network, it’s advertising offers key opportunity for promoting good food and a healthy lifestyle.
Adverts for junk food are set to be banned on the London Underground, Sadiq Khan has confirmed (Picture: Getty).
This is part of a wider drive to tackle child obesity, which includes Sadiq setting up London’s first-ever Child Obesity Taskforce.
The Taskforce is committed to take action to help halve the percentage of London’s children who are overweight at the start of primary school and obese at the end of primary school by 2030.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Child obesity is putting the lives of young Londoners at risk and placing huge pressure on our already strained health service”
“It is absolutely imperative that we take tough action against this ticking timebomb now, and reducing exposure to junk food advertising has a role to play in this – not just for children, but parents, families and carers who buy food and prepare meals.”
“It’s clear that advertising plays a huge part in the choices we make, whether we realise it or not, and Londoners have shown overwhelming support for a ban on adverts for junk food and drink on our transport network.
Changes will be made to TfL’s advertising policy to reflect these restrictions.
Draft guidance for advertisers and their agencies are available here: www.london.gov.uk/food
This will be developed further over the coming weeks.