Supermarkets have more price promotions on food and drink high in salt, sugar and fat than healthier alternatives, an investigation has revealed.
Consumer group Which? found that more than half of all confectionery was on offer in major food retailers, compared to only around a third of fresh fruit and vegetables. Meanwhile, seven in ten soft drinks that would fall under the higher sugar band category of the Government’s proposed sugar tax were also on promotion.
In a snapshot study of supermarkets, high street stores, clothes shops, chemists and toy shops, Which? also found that confectionery, fizzy drinks and other unhealthy snacks were still being promoted at the checkout. Many supermarkets, including Tesco and Morrisons, have already banned selling sweets in aisles at tills to cut down temptation to buy snacks.
Jenny Rosborough, nutritionist for campaign group Action on Sugar, said: “It is deeply concerning that many products ladened with sugar are on promotion, especially at a time when Britain’s rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes are at an all-time high and likely to bankrupt the NHS, unless meaningful action is taken.
“It’s imperative that the new prime minister, as part of the much awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy, prevents retailers from implementing any type of promotion on food and drink products high in sugar, salt and saturated fat as one of the key recommendations.”
Which? analysed data from Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and online retailer Ocado. The six supermarkets showed similar proportions of price promotions were applied to healthy and unhealthy foods.
Of the 77,165 promotions where nutritional data was available, the watchdog found that over half were on less healthy foods compared to healthier products, which comprised just 47 per cent.
Alex Neill of Which? said: “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 in price promotions and for all retailers to get rid of temptation at the till by taking sweets off the checkout.”