Council leaders call for more freedom to ban junk food advertising near schools


It is "not right" that children are being educated about healthy diets while being "bombarded" with junk food advertising, council leaders have said.

Local communities should be given more freedom to ban junk food advertising near schools, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.

Town Hall leaders needed more independence to tackle obesity in their neighbourhoods, the LGA said.

The LGA, which represents more than 370 councils, said that banning such advertising near schools, nurseries and children's centres would reduce children's exposure to unhealthy food and drinks marketing.

Under the current system, if councils want to impose such a ban they have to apply to the Secretary of State followed by a period of consultation before a decision is reached, the LGA said.

But it suggested that local authorities be given more freedom to control unhealthy food and drink advertising near schools.

The call comes ahead of the LGA's conference on childhood obesity in London.

Richard Kemp, deputy chair of the LGA's Community Wellbeing Board, said: "We urgently need to take action to tackle child obesity, and giving councils powers to control marketing of junk food, which is one of the major causes of this epidemic, will help us to tackle the issue.

"We are not saying every council should be using these powers, but it gives local authorities the option of working with parents and schools to ban junk food advertising near schools, nurseries and children centres, if they feel it can make a difference and improve children's health in their town or city.

"We need to make changes to our environment if we are to fight obesity, and although this won't solve the obesity crisis by itself, being able to limit children's exposure to unhealthy food products would be an important step forward.

"It is not right when we are trying to educate children around the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, that at the same time they are subjected to a bombardment of junk food advertising."

Earlier this week, the Committee of Advertising Practice announced it would soon launch a public consultation on whether to ban junk food advertising to children online, in the press, on billboards and poster sites.

The move comes as concern is growing over the childhood obesity epidemic and the rising numbers of children having their rotten teeth taken out.

A campaign spearheaded by Jamie Oliver calling for a sugar tax has attracted widespread support and shone a spotlight on the role industry and legislation play in tackling health problems.

The Government is set to publish its childhood obesity strategy in the summer.