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Supermarkets ‘fuelling’ obesity

Katie Coyne22/11/2018 - 13:45

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Families bombarded with sugary foods
Families bombarded with sugary foods

Families are being bombarded by promotions for sugary food and drinks placed in prime locations in shops and the government needs to take action, argues the Obesity Health Alliance.

Research from the health coalition found that 70 per cent of foods placed in these busy locations at supermarkets were products that contribute significantly to children’s sugar and calorie intake.

These were food and drinks included in Public Health England’s sugar or calorie reduction programmes or those drinks eligible for the Soft Drinks Industry Levy – otherwise known as the ‘sugar tax’.

The four areas classified as prominent by the survey are: store entrances, trolley and self-checkout areas, aisle ends and floor standing units. Less than 1 per cent of food and drinks in prominent areas were fruit or vegetable products.

The Alliance, which is a coalition of more than 40 organisations, including organisations such as the British Medical Association, British Heart Foundation, and Cancer Research UK, is calling on the government to restrict the product placement of unhealthy foods.

OHA lead Caroline Cerny said: ‘We know that where products are located in shops influences how likely we are to purchase them.

‘Sugary treats prominently displayed at checkouts or store entrances will be highly tempting to anyone, but especially children who will then likely pester their parents to buy them.

‘It’s no small wonder that people ‘go wild in the aisles’ for location-based promotions!

‘With more than one in three children leaving primary school with a weight classified as overweight or obese, it is clear that action is needed to create healthier environments for families across the country.

‘Our survey shows that some supermarkets seem to be taking positive steps to limit where they promote unhealthy food, but we need a level playing field.’

The OHA measured products placed in the four prominent areas across one outlet of each of the five supermarkets - Aldi, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – for its survey.

Three of the five supermarkets surveyed had sugary food and drinks such as chocolate and sweets positioned at checkout areas.

Of these stores, at Asda 73 per cent of food and drink products promoted at checkouts were sugary foods including sweets and chocolate bars; at Morrisons it was 47 per cent including sweets and chocolate bars; and at Aldi it was 30 per cent including flapjacks and popcorn.  

Some 79 per cent of products on moveable free-standing display units were found to be for sugary foods.

At the primary school leaving age of 11, more than one in three children are overweight or obese, increasing their chances of developing health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease.

Children aged between four and ten are consuming twice as much free sugar as the recommended daily limit.


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