With great power, comes great responsibility. As Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan heads up the Transport for London advertising estate – the most valuable advertising estate in the world. The images and messages that children see every day are greatly influenced by him.
But what happens when these images and messages aren’t serving London’s kids? What happens when junk food ads constantly bombard them, whether they’re gazing out of the window of the school bus in the morning or hopping onto the tube to see their friends at the weekend?
What happens when these ads are inescapable, in a city with higher numbers of overweight and obese children than any other major global city?
We started campaigning for the Mayor to remove junk food ads from London’s transport network in 2017, highlighting the amazing power that Sadiq has to make a difference and protect London’s children. In Amsterdam, the Deputy Mayor Eric Van Der Berg led the charge to galvanise a community and empower everyone to do their bit to tackle child obesity. The number of overweight and obese children fell by 12% from 2012 to 2015, with the biggest fall amongst the lowest socioeconomic groups.
Jamie wrote a Love Letter to London urging the Mayor to show the same leadership. And we also urged Mr Khan to put pressure on the Prime Minister to follow suit too.
In early May 2018, the Mayor announced that he will remove ads for food high in salt, sugar and unhealthy fats from London’s entire transport network, a game-changing move that shows he is determined to put child health first. He has now launched a consultation on his proposals, and you can have your say here.
We hope that in the next months, Mrs May will decide to take similarly decisive action. As Jamie put it, Khan’s announcement “surely must give Ms May and her cabinet inspiration to do the right thing, be bold, be clear, and pull every lever they can to protect all British kids.”
We’re keeping our fingers crossed!