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‘Ban eating on public transport’: Health chief calls for crackdown

Relish: Eating burgers on London Tube PICTURE: ALAMY

EATING on public transport should be banned to combat obesity, a top health adviser to the government has urged.

Food and drink — except water — should not be consumed on trains, trams and buses in urban areas, said Dame Sally Davies. The only exceptions would be for people with medical conditions and babies being breastfed.

In a final report after stepping down as chief medical officer for England, Dame Sally said the ban was needed to tackle soaring obesity in young people.

The doctor, who also recommended a calorie cap on takeaway portions, said waistlines were expanding in part because of high streets being ‘flooded with cheap, unhealthy food options’.

She also pointed to a rise in snacking and a culture in which ‘excess weight is now often accepted as normal’. Dame Sally added: ‘It is the profound changes in the living environment that are shaping everybody’s behaviour and making it much harder for us all to be a healthy weight.

‘The unavoidable fact is that over time our environment has become very unhealthy without us realising. Our children are impacted as a result and are now suffering from painful, potentially life-limiting diseases.’

Planning restrictions to limit new takeaways should be considered, says the government-commissioned report, which health secretary Matt Hancock has pledged to take seriously.

Dame Sally also wants restrictions on multi-buy offers and says the sugar tax should be extended to cover sweetened milk-based drinks.

She has called for adverts for fatty, salty and sugary products to be banned at all publicly-funded sporting facilities and at major sporting events. And she says VAT should be reformed after Brexit to make healthy foods cheaper and ‘consistently’ apply tax to unhealthy items.

Boris Johnson expressed concerns in July about ‘stealth sin taxes’ and the ‘continuing creep of the nanny state’. But Mr Hancock vowed to ‘act on the evidence’, adding: ‘Dame Sally has done more than anyone to promote the health of the nation over a decade as CMO.’

The British Dietetic Association hailed Dame Sally’s ‘bold and ambitious’ ideas.

But the Food and Drink Federation said firms were working hard to cut unhealthy ingredients, and ‘punitive measures’ might hinder their efforts.