/ 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?

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?


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.

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.


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

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.


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?




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