/ 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?


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

Nicky says:
5 August 2016

Too many parents have forgotten the word NO .

David Stone says:
4 August 2016

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

Bruno Ferreira says:
4 August 2016

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

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!

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


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.

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.

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.