BARNSLEY has become the first town in the north of England to implement restrictions on junk food advertising.

The council’s measures, developed in collaboration with food charity Sustain, have been introduced to protect the health and adults and children - and they’ll be in place across all of their advertising estate.

Being the first authority in the north of England to implement the policy, restrictions will limit advertising on all Barnsley Council-owned or leased advertising sites.

This serves to protect children and adults from exposure to high fat, salt or sugar advertising, which can influence what people eat and drink, as well as how much.

It comes after health bosses have noted a ‘significant increase’ in referrals to diet and weight management services.

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The rise, according to a report issued to March’s board meeting of the South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, has been ‘linked to the impact of lockdowns’.

According to the latest Public Health England data, 73 per cent of adults in Barnsley are classified as overweight or obese higher than both the regional and national averages of 65.2 per cent and 62.8 per cent respectively, and second-highest in Yorkshire and the Humber.

Julia Burrows, director of public health for Barnsley, said: “We want everyone in Barnsley to have the best possible chance of enjoying life in good physical and mental health.

“This guidance note is just one element of what we’re doing to make it easier to be healthy.

“We’re working with businesses who already advertise with us and will work collaboratively with any future businesses to make sure they can advertise healthy food and drink with us.

“We’re hoping this will be the first step in other organisations in Barnsley adopting a similar policy.”

The guidance is an addition to the council’s advertising and sponsorship policies which follow similar schemes adopted by Bristol City Council and a number of London boroughs.

New research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found a similar policy on the Transport for London (TfL) network had worked well.

There was an estimated 6.7 per cent decrease in average weekly household purchases of energy from HFSS products, and the average weekly purchases of chocolate and sweets fell by almost 20 per cent.

Fran Bernhardt, Sustain’s children’s food campaign coordinator, said: “We’re delighted to have worked with Barnsley Council to remove the spotlight from unhealthy foods and drinks.

“As the first town in the north to introduce these policies, we hope their achievements will inspire other areas across the country to take a stand for children’s health.”