/ Food & Drink, Health, Shopping

Should retailers do more to promote healthier food?

Trolley in supermarket aisle

It can sometimes be difficult keeping to a healthy diet – and our latest research shows that the odds are too often stacked against you when it comes to supermarket promotions.

It’s well known that eating healthily isn’t always easy and the cost of it can be off-putting too, so it’s a shame to see that our latest research has found the majority of supermarket promotions are on less healthy foods, tempting people to make less healthy choices.

Let’s chew the fat over less healthy supermarket offers…

Fewer healthy offers

When we surveyed over 2,000 people nearly a third told us they find it difficult to eat healthily, as they think healthier food is more expensive than less healthy food. And according to the respondents, the most popular way to make healthy eating easier would be increasing supermarket promotions on healthier foods.

But when we monitored promotions in the main supermarkets, using data from price-tracking website mySupermarket, we found that there were more promotions on less healthy foods than healthy foods.

Some product categories particularly stood out. For example, over the three-month period we investigated (April to June this year), we found that confectionery was overall more likely to be on promotion than fresh fruit or vegetables.

And seven in 10 soft drinks that would fall under the higher sugar band category (>8% sugar) of the government’s proposed sugar tax were also on promotion.

Temptation at the tills

We also looked at what was being promoted at the checkout. Our supporters and fieldworkers did a spot check in a range of stores and found that, while some supermarkets have cleaned up their act, sweets and unhealthy snacks are still positioned to tempt you in some stores – and some supermarkets are failing to live up to their policies to end this practice.

What was particularly shocking was how it has become quite common to promote sweets at the checkouts in a wider range of stores – including some toy shops.

Promotions play a part

The fact is two thirds of the population are now overweight or obese. But it’s particularly concerning that a third of 10-11 year olds and a fifth of 4-5 year olds are.

There’s no simple way to tackle this, but it would certainly help if retailers took their role more seriously and helped by ensuring that promotions aren’t part of the problem, so that people aren’t encouraged to make unhealthy food choices.

We want retailers to include more healthier options in their price promotions and remove less healthy foods from their checkouts. The government’s Childhood Obesity Strategy is long overdue, but still it’s essential that it clamps down on irresponsible promotions.

We’ll be tracking supermarket practices over the coming months to help ensure they shift to a healthier balance – and help more people to do the same.

Can you help us? Have you spotted any promotions on less-than-healthy foods recently? Or have you noticed any great offers on healthy products?

Comments
Admin

Does anyone find the chocolate bars at the till points too tempting? Do you think there should be healthier options on sale instead?

Admin
Nicky says:
5 August 2016

Too many parents have forgotten the word NO .

Admin
David Stone says:
4 August 2016

Offers on “bad” foods should be banned, it is that simple. Crisps; Sweets; Cake; Ice Cream …

Admin
Bruno Ferreira says:
4 August 2016

It’s actually a shame that they promote crap food at the checkouts.

Admin
Julia says:
4 August 2016

Shameful is right. It just goes to show what makes money for the shop owners and how easy it is to be sucked in. On my graphic design courses I learned that millions of pounds are spent on the psychology in advertising. Money that could be better spent on helping people, perhaps!

Admin
Peter H says:
4 August 2016

Perhaps supermarkets should make their trollies smaller so that less bulk coke can be carried – that would be a start

Admin

We need to be careful here. Yes, of course it can be (at times, and slightly) hard to resist sweets and chocolate, but it’s not that hard! Just do it. I’ve been doing it years. Get a grip on what kind of person you want to be, and just say no, thanks, and walk right past. And when it comes to your kids, they’re going to grow up in a world full of undesirable things – including bad-for-your-teeth, bad-for-your health food items. What do you think you will achieve by trying to hide these things away from them? That’s plain stupid. If your kind are ever going to understand why these things are bad for them, they first need to know what they are . Let them see them, and tell them clearly that we don’t eat too many of these things, and tell them why. Kids listen! But first, you need to talk. Get a grip! You should all stop behaving like helpless victims, choose how you want to live and get on with it.

Admin
Len CORDELL says:
4 August 2016

Parents are as much to blame, say NO to the children when they ask for sweets, crisps at the counter. Take your own eyes off these things as well. Say, NO NO NO. Why do you think so many people are over weight? Have an apple or grape, much better. I don’t see those at the checkouts.
Lets face it. The supermarkets talk about healthy eating but really all they are interested in is taking your money, what ever it is.

Admin
Susan King says:
4 August 2016

At Waitrose they are trying to promote healthy snacks/dried fruits/nuts/seeds etc-no sign of chocolate at the moment at my local shop.

Admin
Liz Power says:
5 August 2016

I was amused when I saw one supermarket, was it Tesco, trumpeting that they would be stocking healthier snacks at the checkout, because both Aldi and Lidl have been doing this for years!

Admin
claire says:
6 August 2016

Waitrose are also offering whole and very sweet cakes for £2 as a special! shops supply what we buy – I agree we need to resist! but like giving up smoking sometimes it is best to avoid the temptation altogether in the first phase of changing ones life style and you cannot avoid the supermarket till!!

Admin
Jan Evans says:
4 August 2016

It’s surprising that hospitals’ A&E departments are still selling sugary drinks and snacks in machines. The biggest number of operations in children are to remove bad teeth. Perhaps selling just bottled water and healthy snacks would be a better option.

Admin
Alix Tatlow says:
4 August 2016

Things don’t change. I complained to M& S about this when my children, now in their 30s, were small. Sweets at eye height as they sat in a buggy in the narrow checkout. At least Lidl display healthy fruit, seed and nut mixes. As an ex-nurse I too abhor the snacks on offer in hospital these days. Brings income I suppose..

Admin

Where we shop there are always offers on fruit, vegetables, raw meat, cheese. I do not see the argument that eating healthily is more expensive than eating less healthy and processed food. It may be we have forgotten how to cook basic meals and foods.

It is surely our own responsibility to choose healthy foods if that is the way we really want to shop. Why be beguiled into buying bad-for-you food? Just leave it on the shelf. But I am not a paragon; I like sweets, cream cakes, chocolate and my diet is mixed. Why make yourself miserable? But Coke, processed snacks, why? Give them up.

Perhaps more education in cooking and choosing healthy food would help. But unless the supermarkets push things you don’t want into your trolley, why blame them for what you choose to do? 🙂

Admin

I believe the change from the diet we became acclimatised to over hundreds of years has changed beyond all recognition. The use of oils which replaced animal fats as the “healthy option” may have a role to play. Telling people to avoid cheese could also be a factor. When the Romans came here they couldn’t believe the amount of cheese we ate. I live in Chesire which was named after this diet. It is thought we ate the most. Today the thing which marks Cheshire out is how few people are actually the correct weight. While I am officially overweight I am doing something about it. Part of this is to revert to a diet more akin to the one we ate for so many years. Believe you me its working.

Admin
Ceinwen says:
5 August 2016

True, but excess sugar is more harmful that fat and exercise also plays a very important part in maintaining good health and weight.

Admin

Putting the sweets at the checkout is a very ancient ploy; at the Roman Gladiatorial games the toad sellers were always near the exit doors. But I think to a small extent the topic is missing a more crucial point.

What constitutes a healthy diet? The contrasting giblets of information the scientifically illiterate newspaper reporters regurgitate on a regular basis keeps changing. Okay – some things stay the same: avoid carbs, don’t consume processed vegetable oil, soap or bird droppings, eat vegetables and the odd piece of fruit and eat as many nuts, lettuces and as much extra virgin Olive oil as you can. But avoid processed food of any kind, red meat, excessive fruit and…oh yes – bird droppings. All in all that’s possibly not the cheapest diet imaginable but for the supermarkets the biggest markup is on ready meals, usually oozing with salt, sugar, trans-fats and regulated amounts of rat hair. So they push the unhealthy stuff (which often tastes quite alluring) and don’t worry about the healthy stuff. Ah – the value of capitalism 🙂

Admin

Trans-fat would be shown on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and it is not an ingredient I have seen for years in the UK. There is some naturally occurring trans-fat in meat and dairy products.

Admin

As I’m sure you know Lansley refused to ban Trans fats and McDonald’s and other fast food outlets continue to use it, sometimes up to 8gms per 170gm serving of chips. Naturally occurring trans fats occur at high levels in Olive Oil but not of the Elaidic acid (trans) variety. As with all biochemical issues it’s far from simple but the bottom line is that you may well be consuming Hydrogenated (Elaidic acid) fats without necessarily knowing it if you consume a lot of ready meals or eat at a burger chain.

Admin

Thanks Ian. I had not given fast food much thought. I recall that there was a large case against McDonalds in the US and thought that this had put paid to use of trans-fats in their products.

I’ve found this statement from the company: Since 2007 we have been using non hydrogenated cooking oil in all of our UK restaurants and this move has resulted in us being able to remove all artificial Trans Fatty Acids (TFA) leaving only naturally occurring TFA, less than 2%.
Moving to this blend of oil in 2007 resulted in a trans-fat reduction of 94% when compared with oil used in 1994.
In addition, in 2008, we also eliminated all hydrogenated vegetable oils from our entire menu (including coatings and dressings). Our success meant we were able to sign up to the Trans Fat pledge as part of the UK Government’s Responsibility Deal in March 2011.

Obviously this is just one fast food company.

Admin

It is not the role of supermarkets to look after the nation’s health. If the law allows practices which meet consumer demand and boost their profits then they have every right to do this. If you think it wrong put pressure on the law makers, not the supermarkets. Having said that, the email link made reference to Chemists. In addition to meeting legal requirements, pharmacists are subject to professional regulation by the General Pharmaceutical Council. I would have thought it was unprofessional for Pharmacies (Chemists) to sell, let alone promote products which are not healthy. A campaign to pressure the GPhC to rule that sales of these products is unprofessional and to discipline pharmacists who continue to sell them might be effective in increasing public awareness of the issue.

Admin
Colin Mutty says:
4 August 2016

Years ago when we were kids (1970s) there was this same argument and eventually the supermarkets removed sweets from the check out.So yes they have crept back again.
It’s business first and people second.

Admin

Checkout sweeties are set out as impulse buys, and for impulse to work the stuff has to be appealing. M&S seems to put all the choccie snackeroonies on the rack at your back alongside the adjacent checkout. People grab it by the handful.

Admin
Ann Eastman says:
4 August 2016

Almost every child that one sees in a buggy, has either a dummy stuffed into its mouth, or little packets of rubbishy nibbles. Both are being used to keep the kids quiet while mum’s eternally on her wretched mobile…
Obviously supermarkets are not helping the situation, but they cannot take all the blame.

Admin
Madeline Harley says:
4 August 2016

The worst example I know, and I’ve complained every time I pop in to buy something (which isn’t that often!) is W.H. Smith whose staff are trained to automatically ask you at point of paying if you would like to buy any sweets or chocolates!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I feel sorry for the member of staff because for the last few years I have complained bitterly every time I have purchased anything there!!

Admin
Sidney says:
5 August 2016

Ready Meal options seem to have got a lot healthier e.g.. Vegetables included, ‘fuller for longer’ options, healthy grains included.

Admin

Retailer chase profits first: just look at what the push and discount – mostly processes food and high sugar sweets etc. People need to train their palate against sweet foods – it’s a long slow process but essential to health, especial for children. If parent can do that and induce an outside lifestyle, kid will be fit.

Admin
Dave Crew says:
5 August 2016

Although deplorable the supermarkets aren’t in existence to look after the public’s health – they’re there to sell goods, make profits and to pay their employees. It’s up to the buying public to buy what they need/want.

I’m getting a little tired of people doing exactly as they please then blaming someone else for allowing them to do it. We do still live in a free country don’t we?

Admin

“I’m getting a little tired of people doing exactly as they please then blaming someone else for allowing them to do it.” – me too, well said Dave.

Admin
Ceinwen partridge says:
5 August 2016

It’s bad enough that sweets are so prominent as you queue up at the checkout but in shops like B&M, Home Bargains etc the cashier actually slows the checkout process down by asking if you are interested in ‘any of our special offers on chocolate?’! These are often items very close to their use by/sell by date!

Admin
Robert Hywel Bennett Griffiths says:
5 August 2016

I feel as though the healthiest food option is to be found in vegetables, as nature intended. Such vegetables including fruit might not taste the same as chocolate but is probably better for us.

It certainly seems to be true that the supermarkets create much waste. I suspect that much of this waste is not recycled!

As an animal rights’ activist, I must insist that meat plus factory farmed produce is really bad! Moreover, the chickens in factory farming systems are fed many anti biotics. This means, in turn that Mr and Mrs Shopper are inadvertently consuming anti biotics by consuming factory farmed produce. It is also true that if Mr and Mrs Shopper consume too many anti biotics then these will not function as expected as the bacteria will develop resistance to them.

Indeed it is probably true to say that supermarkets are not really so super at all!

Clearly the supermarkets sell too much junk food in the guise that the same is very healthy!

Best wishes.

ROB.

Admin

According to the British Poultry Council, the use of antibiotics as growth promoters stopped in the 1990s.

Admin

When I can buy organic produce at sensible prices, I much prefer that.

“Clearly the supermarkets sell too much junk food in the guise that the same is very healthy!” – but they can only sell this “junk food” because many people like to buy it.

Admin
Beryl says:
7 August 2016

That’s a good point DerekP so are people throwing caution to the wind and putting taste before their health concerns?

Admin

In Sainsbury’s yesterday [Saturday], a mother with her daughter [about 3 yrs old] > “Get some crisps, darling”. So off she toddles – to an area the size of the average grocer’s when I was that age – and she takes a giant bag [containing 24 packets] from a low shelf easily within reach and returns to mum. Mum gladly accepts the contribution to the trolley already bursting with fizzy pop and sugary morsels. Let’s hope they last through the weekend. The young girl was still a regular size for her age, unlike her mother.

A well-known fortnightly magazine used to have a regular cartoon strip called “The Fatty-Puffs” about an over-eating couple and their general engorgement. It hasn’t been seen for a while so perhaps the joke has worn thin and nobody cares anymore.

Admin

I suppose that we should be grateful that Sainsbury did not have the 36 pack bags at the checkouts.

At one time, crisps and confectionery were sold individually and now its multipacks or larger packs, for example 150g bags of crisps and 2 litre bottles of cola.

Admin

People with American-size fridges need to fill them with American-size products so their children can become American-size grown-ups.

I notice a lot of biscuits now come in double and triple packs yet average household size has been declining for years. I am sure the more there is in the cupboard the more people will eat. OK, it’s their choice and their money – but should the children be exposed to such temptation and gluttony? There was a time when they had to ask for a treat but now they help themselves [it wouldn’t surprise me if they set up the on-line delivery order!].

Admin

Ever since I was a kid I have been keen on biscuits and I usually buy a packet when I’m in the supermarket. If I leave them in at the front of the cupboard, the packet might be empty by the end of the day, but if I put them out of sight they are likely to be forgotten.

Admin

Should we ban biscuits wavechange? I don’t know what size you are but you are making your own decision to buy and eat (or not) them. I like fattening foods but remain a lithe sleek 11 stone (70 kg) and 6’11/2″ (1869mm/ 1.87m).

My favourite biscuit seems no longer available – Victoria Sandwich I think they were called; triangular pink wafer biscuits covered in dark chocolate and bought by my Mum in the ’50s. With the general shortage of food, and dubious quality, these seemed a treat but maybe that is looking backwards through rose-tinted specs. Like those huge Weston’s Wagon Wheels. Now I think decent ginger nuts dipped in tea take some beating.

Resisting temptation takes some doing, doesn’t it?

Admin

I’ve no problem with self-control, Malcolm. I’m fairly resistant to the pressures of the commercial world and to peer pressure. When I learned of the shops’ strategy of selling junk food at the checkout I made a point not to buy it on principle.

Even if some of us can behave sensibly, the fact remains that many adults are overweight or obese and this is a growing problem with children too. It’s fairly obvious that the manufacturers and retailers are exploiting those who lack self-control.

Admin
Peter says:
5 August 2016

Oh woe is me! My life is so hard I must treat myself!
Never say I must control myself! I am always the victim!
( for those who don’t know the above is sarcasm )

Oh ###! people get a grip. Its a fact of life. Life is not fair.
I am sick of people doing what ever they want, then blaming others for it.
Its freedom of choice they choose to eat it and if I want to choose to eat
something, it is my choice. Last I checked we live in a free country… don’t we?

What makes me angry is I don’t choose to eat sweets or sugary drinks every
day but now I must pay more in tax because other people have no self control.

Hey Sue Davies, how about a campaign for public self responsibility?

Admin

We go to the Supermarket every day and the Supermarkets BOGOF is always on the bad foods or you very rarely get it on fresh foods only if it’s near it’s sell by date, so they do not help you have a great diet as you have a limited budget it’s very hard.

Admin
Louise says:
5 August 2016

For goodness sakes grow up and make up your own minds not to buy things that are bad for you! The supermarkets aren’t torturing you to make you buy crisps and sweets – you can make that decision for yourselves. It is not the responsibility of someone else to regulate your addictions.

And you can always say “no” to a child who is making demands. I wish more people would try it.

Admin

A general debate on taking personal responsibility for actions might be interesting.

Admin
A Holmes says:
5 August 2016

We were taught nutrition at school sixty odd years ago, we were also taught how to combine the foods we ate for the correct nutrition each day and how to cook it properly. I didn’t give my child sweet snacks and drinks it was a battle to stop my Mother doing so; she didn’t have that problem with me as most food was rationed when I was a child. I shop once or twice a month at the abbatoir, and they do have offers; since we can’t get an allotment I call in the greengrocers or the local market as and when and my milkman supplies milk, eggs, cream and yogurt when I need it(all quality products). I should have kept an article I read in the press some months ago which said a french study on microwaves showed that they destroyed 75% of vitamins; if you don’t get the nutrition, your body asks for more food to try and find it. I like sweets but supermarkets are irresponsible with where they place them and it’s all to do with profit.

Admin

All cooking methods destroy vitamins to some extent and different studies have provided very different results regarding microwave cooking. In my parents’ generation it was common to boil vegetables for far longer than necessary, which would certainly decrease the vitamin content.

If you don’t eat enough food you will feel hungry but I’m not aware that our bodies can identify that they have a vitamin deficiency. Is there scientific evidence that supports this hypothesis?

Admin

Rickets?

Admin

Does rickets or the other symptoms of vitamin deficiencies make a person feel hungry?

Admin

By the time rickets has manifested the damage has been done.

Admin

Agreed, but what I am trying to find out is whether there is any evidence that we want to eat more if our diet is deficient in one or more vitamins, as intimated by A Holmes.

Admin

I don’t suppose there are any indicators of vitamin deficiency that would auto-suggest a dietary adjustment. A Holmes said that “if you don’t get the nutrition, your body asks for more food to try and find it” which is a fair simplification, and the same applies to energy, but they are short term fixes for a temporary problem. Vitamin deficiency takes longer to become apparent and even then might not be perceptible to the subject; it might also be accompanied by over-eating of the wrong foods and the person feels satisfied even though their condition is deteriorating. Correcting the composition of foodstuffs is the strategic and surest way of remedying the problem as personal choice will not, on its own, rectify the diet.

Admin

Yes – I was only being facetious with my comment.

Admin

Actually, Ian, I thought it was a fair point since rickets is making a comeback. It used to be closely associated with malnutrition due to insufficient intake of food, but today’s problems are different with too much food being consumed and mostly of the wrong type leading to obesity and possibly, in some cases, to bone deformation due to the vitamin deficiency and the overweight. While I feel that adults can make their own choices on what and how much to eat [although I don’t necessarily like the consequences for the nation and the NHS], children and young people are entitled to some protection from the commercial forces and prevalent ignorance about a healthy diet.

Admin

In her introduction, Sue says that two thirds of the population are now overweight or obese and the situation is getting worse. I don’t think it is a viable option to carry on ignoring the problem to appease those who value their own freedom of choice more than the health of the nation. I never expected the ban on smoking in public places to be successful, but it shows what can be achieved.

On the way back from a reunion with friends from university days I stopped at a motorway service area for a break. While drinking coffee I saw this Convo and explored what was on offer at the service area. In addition to the usual fried food outlet and shelves of confectionery there was a food-only Marks & Spencer. I bought a sandwich but was amazed how much confectionery was on offer near the tills and elsewhere. Normally I take my own food for when I break a journey.

Admin

“Appease those who value freedom of choice”? We live in a democracy where we can take responsibility for our actions, not a dictatorship where we are told what to do. I’d like to keep it that way and educate people how to look after their health.

The NHS say “The term ‘obese’ describes a person who’s very overweight, with a lot of body fat.
It’s a common problem in the UK that’s estimated to affect around one in every four adults and around one in every five children aged 10 to 11.”

It might be that instead of spending vast sums on the Olympics and professional sports people we could use the money to encourage younger people in particular to get off their bottoms, put down their electronic gadgets, and do some exercise. We need facilities to do that, and they need to be affordable, not high priced commercial gyms and tennis clubs. Oh, and schools need to provide real exercise that makes you sweat and breath harder as part of the curriculum.

Admin

Education has its limitations. Without cooperation, little will be learned. I expect that most people who are obese are very well aware that eating too much and exercising too little are the reasons.

Peer pressure has a lot to do with the way that many young people go out to get drunk. Eating out with others has become a more regular activity than it used to be and portion sizes have increased.

Many cannot easily quit smoking even though they know it is harmful and others drink more than is good for them. If marketing and selling of food was controlled to cut down on obesity, I would support it.

I agree about the encouraging people to take exercise.

Admin

Banning smoking in public places was designed to protect others (passive smoking), not the smoker. I am not sure what the equivalent would be for obesity. Maybe banning all fattening foods in restaurants, takeaways and any other public places? Maybe banning alcohol in pubs (very fattening)? I really don’t see what sensible action could be taken, much as I would like to see obesity reduced (literally). Perhaps we could price clothes by size?

I have an acquaintance who is so fat he cannot fit in some cars, eats butter by the slice, cleans up all unused sauces in restaurants, buys cakes by the dozen – and he is a very intelligent person who knows he has a problem. For many there is no doubt a mental element to this. A group of obese people no doubt need special help for something that is a compulsion. But if others are happy in their own skins, should we impose our views on them? Should we penalise them if they allow their children to become obese? Is it any different to dealing with drug abusers, alcoholics, irresponsible gamblers…….and all the other frailties we seem to suffer from.?

Admin

Pricing clothes by size already exists in places. The idea of weighing airline passengers with their luggage has been mooted. There are plenty more ideas out there, including above.

A general debate on taking personal responsibility for actions would be interesting, as suggested by malcolm r, as well as a debate about to what extent genes and/or mental illness affect propensity to gamble, drink or eat too much, and a debate about whether allowing one’s children to become obese could be considered child abuse.

We all have to take a degree of responsibility, but we are also all affected by our genes, our cultures, our backgrounds, our lives past and current, our personalities, by our surroundings, including supermarkets, and so on. Understanding this is the beginning. Rejecting one’s own responsibility outright, particular circumstances excepted, and blaming temptation is a cop out. But condemning those who don’t appear to be able to resist temptation is supercilious nonsense. Retailers also have to accept a degree of responsibility.

The next question is, what do we do about it? Yes, encouragement, education, therapy, but also take away temptation where possible: vending machines throughout hospitals (they’re not just in EDs, they’re everywhere) shockingly selling nutritional rubbish, sugary stuff by supermarket tills, reducing portions sizes in cinemas, etc. Take away temptation and keep at it.

Hide sweets like we hide tobacco now? (I’m joking… or am I?)

Admin
Rita Tollerfield says:
5 August 2016

One way of keeping away from those temptations is to make sure that you don’t go into the supermarkets feeling hungry. These unhealthy sweet,fatty foods will be a very big temptation. Discipline and education is needed and I feel the supermarkets need to play a big part in promoting healthier, natural foods rather than snacks and slimming group products.Healthy foods aren’t expensive and more promotion of this is needed along with healthy recipes and clearer food labelling.

Admin
Isobel says:
6 August 2016

I have to say that I noticed that at Aldi and Lidl checkouts now there are only healthy snacks on offer. Health bars, dried fruit packs, sugar-free gum and a variety of small bottles of water. It is terrible to say that I don’t pick any of these up but I used to pick up a couple of bars of fudge when they were on offer. I suppose that although I am not picking up healthy snacks I am not now buying fudge bars which must be better for me.

Admin

The supermarkets have honed the strategies they employ to part you from your cash over many years. The layout of the supermarket itself is a tribute to the disciplines of Psychology and Sociology. Most supermarkets greet you with an array of Vegetables and Fruits. When the shopper has assuaged their conscience by choosing ‘healthy’ options, the aisles then imperceptibly modulate their tone, moving the shopper towards the less healthy dairy products, and sneakily interspersing ‘special offers’ – more often than not on somewhat less healthy options. Finally, the cunning planners lure you into the hedonistic world of soft, sugar-laden drinks and even (perish the thought!) cakes and ready meals ghetto, ensuring your eventual escape from which will see you pass by alluringly stacked shelves of alcoholic beverages (by which time you need a drink, anyway…) and ultimately confronting you at the checkout with the splendour of the massed sweet arrays. By that stage your spirit has been broken, resistance is futile and you award yourself perhaps a tiny titbit of something nice, as a consolation for having survived the horrors of the Supermarket Somme. But nothing you bought is by chance…

Admin
Maggi says:
6 August 2016

I agree with the way supermarkets encourage adults and children to give in to temptation with the goods at the checkout, but there is another problem I noticed last week while shopping, there is now a special cereal section in some supermarkets with a sign above that says ” Children’s Cereals “. it does not take any time to realise that these contain too much sugar and some are covered in chocolate. These organisations are not concerned with health ony profits !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Admin

Half the cereals aisle is full of sugar- and chocolate-coated rubbish these days all at premium prices. One of the side effects of austerity I suppose.

Admin
catherine burgon says:
6 August 2016

buying something thats bad for you costs pennies , buying a fresh fruit selection and healthy meals from scratch costs the earth …

Admin

I agree that price does play its part – but quite a lot of nice fruit and veg is not all that expensive.

Admin

People today are using the wrong type of carbohydrates as a means of reducing the stress and anxiety in their lives. There are more people taking antidepressants than ever. In 2012, 50 million prescriptions were issued by GP’s because of the long waiting lists for counselling. The highest numbers being in The North, Blackpool topping the list at 1 in 5.3 followed by Redcar, 1 in 6 and Barnsley, 1 in 6.3 adults.

Antidepressants are known to produce weight gain by up to 10lbs by increasing serotonin production (95% of which is contained in the stomach) which makes you feel more hungry. Eating the right kind of carbohydrate however, such as low fat cereals, rice etc can increase serotonin levels naturally which can act as a mild antidepressant, as does exercise, but carbohydrates containing fats (which slow down digestion) such as chocolate, cake, ice cream biscuits etc and therefore the production of serotonin, making you feel more depressed when you are more likely to want to eat more of the wrong foods through craving rather than hunger, increasing the depression even further, culminating in the likelihood of addiction and overweight.

It’s a chicken and egg situation really. Are supermarkets aware of the science behind junk food and exploit it, or is it a case of them responding to consumer demand?

Admin

Chicken and egg is an interesting argument (forget campylobacter for once). When I was in design and manufacture we felt than unless a product was produced the customer would not know it was possible, so would not demand it. Would we demand LED light sources for our homes with no notion they were possible?

I think the product comes first, and if successful it is followed by demand. So the manufacturers are the initial source of any problem of unhealthy food, the retailers next for stocking it, but unless customers choose to buy it, it will fail.

We have the final say – if we choose to. Consumers’ problems seem to be not buying such products, but consuming them to excess, whether crisps, fatty beefburgers or alcohol. Some think we should be regulated and prevented from exercising our free choice, as if we are some part of an organisation that a few who “know better” wish to dominate with their own ideas.

My preference is that people should be given information to help them make their own choices. We are all individuals with the right to live our lives the way we choose, but to accept the consequences of our own actions.

Admin

Considerable information has been provided and most food comes with information on nutrition. I believe that McDonalds and other well known fast food outlets provide nutritional information too. But the number of overweight and obese people is growing and it is high time that we controlled the worst excesses of the food industry.

Free choice seems intuitively right but the statistics show that this is not working. When the house is on fire it is better to take prompt action than tell people they need a smoke detector in each room and to test it regularly.

Telling an alcoholic to cut down on their drinking does not always work. Some manage to get their weight under control but many don’t.

I think Beryl is right about the effect of stress. Ignoring it is not a good idea, nor is turning to alcohol or excessive or unhealthy food consumption.

Admin

Walkers have now switched to using sunseed oil in their crisps, a typical 35g bag contains two and a half teaspoons of oil and nearly a fifth of children eat two packs a day according to The British Heart Foundation. A pack a day habit is equal to a child drinking 5 litres of oil every year.

Malcolm I am a great believer in freedom of choice but food choice has it roots in what a parent feeds a child on from a very early stage in its life. As Wavechange makes the point old habits die hard and can too easily become addictions which are extremely hard to break once established.

The damage to ones health from over indulging whether it be through eating or drinking to excess or the making the wrong choices generates a huge strain on the NHS, and in that respect I would suggest maybe we all have a duty of care to make sensible choices that first benefit not only ones own health but also that of your nearest and dearest and ultimately society as a whole.

Admin

“If all else fails read the instructions” has relevance. All new houses are fitting with interlinked smoke alarms but most people believe their house will not catch fire – and it doesn’t. Certainly substance abuse, whether alcohol, smoking, drugs, food, sugar, is something that becomes wired into your brain and is difficult to reverse. However most people do not abuse things in this way, and the penalty for banning some things is denying the rights of the vast majority who do not abuse them. I like a small glass of wine, cream cakes, occasional beefburger, chips, bag of crisps, moderate consumption of soft drinks, and would be very miffed if someone tried to prevent me from buying them “for my own good”.

Admin

Beryl, I totally agree that we have a duty of care, particularly to our offspring. I believe the majority do adopt a sensible approach to this without being over-prescriptive, especially to their children. My problem comes with how you deal, if you have the right, with those who are not so responsible as if we have some superior right to control their habits.

We could ban alcohol – for some it is disastrous; smoking – for many it damages their health; dangerous activites – apart from self-harm it imposes a strain on A&E. I just do not know how you intrude into other people’s lives when so many activities, done irresponsibly in our eyes, can cause them harm.

Admin

The whole point Malcolm being it is your choice to ignore the now well established and proven advice as to what you consider is acceptable to your own lifestyle, as long as you are aware of the risks involved through over indulging in the wrong kind of food and that the damage to ones health can occasionally be irreversible.

Admin

Yes, Beryl, I agree. Given the correct information, it is your choice how to behave. Sometimes though, the “right information” is not always “right” as we have seen with advice on foods.

Admin

Malcolm, maybe the right information about the right kind of food is the preferred option to the wrong information about the wrong kind of food. Your GP would know the answer to that little poser, but I hesitate to delve any further into what is essentially a private matter.

Admin
sarita says:
6 August 2016

not having read all the comments –
I personally feel that –

the temptations should be removed, more so at the check outs in order;

– to stop testing children, young people and vulnerable adults – especially when they are feeling bored and tired towards the end of their shopping;

– telling them ‘no’ constantly is psychologically harmfull to both adults and children – not to forget the health risks
– a lot of adults who are unwell are also unable to stop themselves.

Admin
Celia de Mengel says:
6 August 2016

I was recently shopping for household items in a store which did not sell food as part of it’s normal remit. However, at the check out bay I encountered a vast array of bars of chocolate and sweets, mostly at child friendly height!

When buying a newspaper at some national stores I am offered an additional option of a ‘special offer’ of chocolate.

Multi-screen cinema’s frequently oblige one to fight one’s way through vast arrays of chocolates, sweets, sugar loaded drinks and salty snacks, before reaching the ticket vending facility.

…and why do the very same multi-screen cinemas sell such huge buckets of sweetened pop corn and even provide plastic hoops beside the seats to hold them and fizzy, sugar loaded, drinks?

…and precede the film with advertisements for unhealthy food…?

Cinema’s of this sort should carry a health warning. ‘Visiting these premises could seriously damage you health.’

Admin

As someone recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I’m quite shocked at the levels of sugar in food. I’ve always endeavoured to eat as healthily as possible, but things like cereals (and supposedly ‘healthy’ cereal bars and ‘energy’ drinks/snacks, etc) are packed with them!

Admin
Sandra Brady says:
7 August 2016

I would like to be able to buy mis-shape organic fruit and veg.
It would be healthy for us and the environment and it would help to eliminate food waste at source.
What about only allowing mis -shape organic fruit and veg as quick snack food at check outs.
This would reverse the decades of dominance of sweet/fat laden tempting junk.

Admin
Penny SIMPSON says:
20 August 2016

There are also too many fast food type restaurants and take-away places & promotional flyers coming from pizza/kebab/chinese/middle eastern food type restaurants & concessions . I appreciate that immigrants to this country need to make a living & often they set up & staff small fast food shops/concessions but this has created a culture of fast food to be bought on the street or on the quick, (or just send out for something that will get delivered quickly) –seemingly cheap & good value but in the long run, expensive and without even having to show any government guidelines as to fat/carbo/salt/sugar content. ‘Street fast food ” culture is as much to blame, or even more so, than the supermarkets who are at least trying to a) label food correctly and b) have offers/promotions to help those on a budget, assuming people shopping sensibly in first place.