Yesterday, May 11th, 2018, various news outlets reported on a proposal from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to ban all adverts for fast food from Transport from London (TFL). Along with the reports from journalists, the topic has also been trending on social media. It is proving to be a controversial topic with some expressing concern that the current levels of knife crime on the streets of London should be the foremost priority for the Mayor. Others, meanwhile, are praising Khan for seeking to take concrete action to tackle obesity. A notable supporter of the proposal is chef Jamie Oliver, who has declared the plans are “big, bold, brave action.” This follows on from Oliver recently calling on the government to tackle obesity.

Why is a ban being considered?

Obesity levels of children in London are worrying with almost 40 percent being obese by age 10 or 11. This is six percent higher than across the rest of England. A study conducted by Cancer Research and the National Centre for Social Research concluded that “advertising did impact children’s food choices and resulted in pressure being put on parents to buy unhealthy foods”.

The proposal is, therefore, duly backed by research.

Is the proposal good or bad?

Steps to tackle obesity are important.

Stopping advertisement of fast food may seem like an easy action to take which might not have a big effect. Yet, with an action like this, an investment is made in the future.

Through banning these adverts, the vast numbers of children travelling on TFL each day would no longer face daily temptations to consume fast food. In a city as sprawling as London, public transport is not an option, but is rather a necessity for many. Children use it to travel to and from school, extra-curricular events, and leisure pursuits. The advertisers know that in these periods of travelling there is a big temptation for food and drink. The intention is clear.

I, personally, live in a city where offers for fast food are often printed on the back of bus tickets and those are coupled with billboards at the bus-stops reminding us again about fast food.

The idea of fast food is put in your mind at the beginning of your journey and continues even once you depart from the bus. It is tempting to me as an adult and would be even more so to a child.

Obesity is something which needs to be taken seriously. It can be comorbid and inter-related with other physical and mental problems causing additional struggles for those with it. I definitely believe that banning adverts could be a step in the right direction for confronting obesity, but it can certainly be said that the timing of this announcement is not best.

Something must be done about the knife crime in London. It is leaving great devastation in its wake and needs to be stopped. Yes, obesity and knife crime can both lead to death but knife crime can be instant, obesity is not. Both need action taken against them and knife crime needs to be tackled sooner rather than later.