Child choosing sweets in a supermarket

02 March 2020

Supermarkets must do more to prevent obesity

Supermarkets should be held accountable for their role in the growing childhood obesity crisis according to a new report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.

Contributing to the report, Dr Kristy Howells, Reader in Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, said: “How we shop and what we buy is heavily influenced by the tactics employed by supermarkets, such as store layout and promotions. For this reason, supermarkets are a key component of today’s obesity crisis. BOGOF deals, supersized products, child eye-level placing of products and overwhelming price promotion bias towards unhealthy products all impacts buying behaviour and contributes to bad diet choices.

“Supermarkets are the ‘food gatekeepers’ to our weekly shops and as such should be subject to increased scrutiny by public health researchers and policy makers. The Government should encourage supermarkets to promote healthy choice and the supermarkets themselves should consider how best to promote healthy foods, decrease the promotion of unhealthy foods and re-balance promotions away from products that are high in fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) to healthier foods so that families experiencing food poverty may enjoy greater access to them.”

The report recommends a variety of ways that supermarkets can help support shoppers to change their habits, including: 

  • re-considering store layout to best promote healthy foods and decrease the promotion of unhealthy foods so shoppers don’t have to negotiate an array of unhealthy temptations
  • controlling the criteria for child eye-level in the placing of unhealthy products
  • re-balancing promotions away from products that are high in fat, sugar and/or salt (HFSS) to healthier foods
  • giving customers access to clear, accurate nutritional and value for money information on all products
  • developing more supermarket shopping techniques to support family units in making healthy choices, including trolley dividers and recipe guidance.

Read the full report here.

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Last edited: 15/01/2020 11:19:00