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“Junk science”: IEA expert rubbishes claim TfL ‘junk food’ ad ban prevented almost 100,000 obesity cases

Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs responds to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity claiming that Transport for London’s ban on ‘junk food’ advertising may have prevented 100,000 cases of obesity

“This modelling study is one of the worst pieces of junk science I have ever come across in a journal. It builds on an earlier modelling study which falsely claimed that the advertising ban caused Londoners to consume 1,000 fewer calories a day and makes various back-of-the-envelope calculations based on that factoid. 

“Nowhere in the study is the reality of what has actually happened in London since 2019, when the ban was introduced, allowed to intrude. Child obesity rates have risen across the UK since 2019, but the biggest increase has been in London. In England, obesity among 11 year olds rose from 21 per cent to 25.5 per cent, but rates shot up twice as fast in London, from 23.7 per cent to 30 per cent. London now has the highest rate of childhood obesity in the country. 

“Since the pandemic, I suspect people have grown weary of politically motivated public health modelling that bears no relationship to reality. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for this rubbish.”

Notes to editors

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems, and it seeks to provide analysis in order to improve the public understanding of economics.

The health, cost and equity impacts of restrictions on the advertisement of high fat, salt and sugar products across the transport for London network: a health economic modelling study

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