Young People In London Call On Councils To Take Action On Junk Food Ads

Members of the Youth Board met with council representatives and public health specialists from London boroughs to present their manifesto to end junk food advertising in London in February 2022.

A tall, young black woman with shoulder length braids and wearing a medium length beige coat is holding a microphone and stood in front of a projected screen addressing an audience. The audience are sat on yellow chairs and facing the presenter in a semi-circle, while a camera on a tripod records fr

Today, we the members of the London Youth Board of Bite Back 2030 are pleased to launch: ‘Bombarded by junk food: Our story’. This describes our experiences of growing up in the capital whilst facing a flood of unhealthy food pouring out from high streets, supermarket shelves and school canteens.

We’re releasing it ahead of the local elections on 5 May, and it’s designed to capture the attention of councils across the city. Our creative document features illustrations, poetry and collages to bring our experiences to life, as well as setting out a vision of what a healthier future might look like — check it out here.

At its heart are two key asks that we have for all London borough councils:

  1. Meet with young people, to understand why ending junk food advertising is so important to us — because health comes first.
  2. Introduce a Healthier Advertising Policy that restricts the advertisement of high fat, salt and/or sugar (HFSS) products on all council-controlled advertising sites — because health comes first.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved since our group started last year, and we’re campaigning hard to protect the health of all young people across the capital.

We want councillors to notice us, so we’ve worked hard as a group to create something that is really imaginative, colourful and authentic — not a boring manifesto! Every child deserves the opportunity to be healthy, regardless of where they live, so we need them to take damaging junk food ads out of the spotlight. We won’t stop until those in power take us seriously and make urgent changes!

A policy to end junk food marketing across the TfL network that came into force in 2019 has been shown to be a big success, with a recent study finding that households in the city purchased an average of 1,000 fewer calories per week from products high in fat, salt and/or sugar. Our campaign builds on this success, and we want to see councils step up and go further to create healthier public spaces in their boroughs.

Becky, a young black woman, with long braids that go from dark brown to blonde at the tips, is speaking to a woman who has dark hair in a bun and her back to the camera. Becky is wearing a grey zip hoodie and blue jeans, and is facing the woman while sat down on a chair.
Becky questioned the Public Health Specialist from Enfield Council, on Child Health

Earlier this year we sent letters to the leaders of every council in London asking them to meet with us and talk about ending junk food adverts in publicly owned spaces in their borough. We’ve had some positive responses already, and the letters have led to great meetings with public health teams and council representatives from Tower Hamlets, Enfield, Hackney and Lambeth. We’ve got more lined up and it’s been great to see councillors and their staff supporting our work and praising our commitment to health!

We’re keeping up the campaigning and attending local hustings aheads of the May election. This will be a great chance to ask questions of councillor candidates and share printed copies of our publication.

Loads more exciting activity is planned in the coming weeks and months, so stay tuned for updates!