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Restricting the advertising of high fat, salt and sugar foods on the Transport for London estate: Process and implementation study.

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Meiksin, Rebecca 
Er, Vanessa 
Thompson, Claire 
Boyland, Emma 


INTRODUCTION: One in five UK children aged 10-11 years live with obesity. They are more likely to continue living with obesity into adulthood and to develop obesity-related chronic health conditions at a younger age. Regulating the marketing of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods and beverages has been highlighted as a promising approach to obesity prevention. In 2019, Transport for London implemented restrictions on the advertisement of HFSS products across its network. This paper reports on a process evaluation of the design and implementation of this intervention. METHODS: In 2019-2020, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 23 stakeholders. Interviews with those responsible for implementation (n = 13) explored stakeholder roles, barriers and facilitators to policy development/implementation and unintended consequences. Interviews with food industry stakeholders (n = 10) explored perceptions and acceptability of the policy, changes to business practice and impact on business. Data were analysed using a general inductive approach. RESULTS: Practical challenges included limited time between policy announcement and implementation, translating the concept of 'junk food' into operational policy, the legal landscape, and reported uneven impacts across industry stakeholders. Political challenges included designing a policy the public views as appropriate, balancing health and financial impacts, and the perceived influence of political motivations. Consultation during policy development and close communication with industry reportedly facilitated implementation, as did the development of an exceptions process that provided a review pathway for HFSS products that might not contribute to children's HFSS consumption. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that restricting the outdoor advertisement of HFSS foods and beverages at scale is feasible within a complex policy and business landscape. We outline practical steps that may further facilitate the development and implementation of similar policies and we report on the importance of ensuring such policies are applied in a way that is perceived as reasonable by industry and the public.



Childhood obesity, Food advertising, HFSS, Implementation, Intervention, Media, Regulation, Adult, Advertising, Beverages, Child, Food, Food Industry, Humans, London, Sodium Chloride, Dietary, Sugars

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Soc Sci Med

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Elsevier BV
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
MRC (MC_UU_00006/7)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (PD-SPH-2015-10029 BH154142)
Department of Health (via National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)) (unknown)
Medical Research Council (MR/K02325X/1)
This study is funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR) (Grant Reference NumberPD-SPH-2015). The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research is a partnership between the Universities of Sheffield; Bristol; Cambridge; Imperial; and University College London; The London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); LiLaC –a collaboration between the Universities of Liverpool and Lancaster; and Fuse -The Centre for Translational Research in Public Health, a collaboration between Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside Universities. CT is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Applied Research Collaboration East of England. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. JA, MW and TB are supported by the MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge [grant number MC/UU/12015/6] and Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding for CEDAR from the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research [grant numbers ES/G007462/1 and MR/K023187/1], and the Wellcome Trust [grant number 087636/Z/08/Z], under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. FdV is partly funded by National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West) at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. AAL is a member of Fuse, the Centre for Translational Research in Public Health ( Fuse is a Public Health Research Centre of Excellence funded by the five North East Universities of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside. SC is funded by Health Data Research UK (HDR-UK). HDR-UK is an initiative funded by the UK Research and Innovation, Department of Health and Social Care (England) and the devolved administrations, and leading medical research charities. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of any of the above named funders. The funders had no role in the design of the study, or collection, analysis and interpretation of the data, or in the decision to publish, or in writing the manuscript.