Obesity Has Gone Down With Ban On Junk Food Ads At UK Subways
By Alexa Heah, 05 Aug 2022
Though the issue of obesity has taken a back seat in the wake of COVID-19 and monkeypox, its prevalence is still an enormous worry for health authorities, with the UK noting that nearly two-thirds of adults in England were classified as being overweight in 2015.
Public Health England believes the problem is responsible for over 30,000 deaths annually, depriving an individual of nine years of life on average. In fact, the matter is so pressing, obesity could be set to overtake tobacco smoking as the largest cause of preventable death.
To tackle this, back in 2019, Transport for London (TfL) networks implemented restrictions on junk food advertising, limiting commuters’ exposure to snacks that were high in fat, salt, and sugar (HFSS).
Now, three years later, researchers from the University of Sheffield and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), who charted the effects of the ban, have posited that it could have prevented nearly 100,000 cases of obesity, and saved the National Health Service (NHS) £200 million (US$242 million).
The study, which surveyed 1,970 people in London and Northern England, where there are no restrictions currently in place, estimated that the advertising clampdown resulted in a 1,000-calorie decrease in unhealthy purchases in travelers’ weekly grocery hauls.
Using a health economic model based on NHS weight and health data, the researchers suggested that there certainly is merit to the TfL’s efforts, considering it may have prevented 2,875 cases of diabetes and 1,915 cases of cardiovascular disease.
“In conclusion, restricting advertisement of HFSS products on the public transport network in London is likely to have led to considerable health and economic gains, whilst also reducing health inequalities,” summed up the study.
“Out-of-home advertising policies represent an effective tool to help reduce population obesity and its long-term consequence,” it added.
Perhaps, which how successful this initiative has proved to be, the same rules will be applied to other regions in the UK and maybe, even the rest of the world.
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