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Supermarkets need to take action against obesity, says Which?

The consumer rights watchdog, Which?, is urging supermarkets to ‘do their part’ in the fight against obesity, as new data collected by mySupermarket shows that, of the 77,165 promotions where nutritional data was available, more than half (53 per cent) were on less healthy foods.

Further analysis of the data – which looked at the balance of healthy and less healthy promotions available in ASDA, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose between April 1 and June 30, 2016 –- also found 52 per cent of confectionery was on offer compared to just one third of fresh fruit and vegetables (30 per cent and 34 per cent respectively). In addition, seven in ten (69 per cent) of soft drinks that would fall under the government’s proposed sugar tax (more than 8 per cent sugar) were also on promotion.

Director of Campaigns and Policy at Which?, Alex Neill, commented on the results: “Everybody has to play their part in the fight against obesity and people want supermarkets to offer more promotions on healthier foods and yet our research found the opposite. It’s time for supermarkets to shift the balance of products they include in price promotions and for all retailers to get rid of temptation at the till by taking sweets off the checkout.”

In a separate study, Which? found 29 per cent of people claim to find it difficult to eat healthier food as they believe it is more expensive than less healthy alternatives; proving to be the top reason provided for not eating more healthily.

Moreover, 51 per cent said supermarkets should include healthier choices in promotions to make it easier for people to choose healthier food. This was the top action consumers wanted from supermarkets, followed by the production of healthier options at cheaper prices (49 per cent) as well as creating foods with less fat, sugar and salt content (49 per cent).