Supermarkets Criticised For Promoting Unhealthy Foods

British supermarket groups have been attacked by a consumer watchdog for dramatically increasing the number of promotions featuring unhealthy foods, despite warnings of surging obesity levels.
A new report published by the National Consumer Council (NCC) claims that supermarkets are using special offers on savoury snacks, sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and fizzy drinks to entice shoppers during the credit crunch.
The report found that products high in fat, salt and sugar currently make up 54 per cent of in-store promotions, almost double the number reported in 2006, while only 12 per cent of cheap deals were found to be for fresh fruit and vegetables or other healthy staple items.
Yet health advice from the Food Standards Agency recommends that such foods should only make up seven per cent of a person’s diet .
Morrisons was named as the worst culprit for the fourth time in a row, with nearly two-thirds of in-store promotions said to feature unhealthy food types. The grocer was also slammed for having unhealthy pitches at all its checkouts, with some items placed at child height.
In contrast, Sainsburys was ranked best for the second time in a row, followed by the Co-op.
High street retailer Marks and Spencer was praised by the council for offering the most fresh fruit and vegetables in its deals, but was also criticised for continuing to promote sweets and chocolates on low check-out shelves.
Lucy Yates, author of the NCC report, said that the volume of promotions featuring unhealthy food was “staggering”.
“We expected to see evidence of big improvements since our last investigation, but we’ve been sadly disappointed,” she said.
“Despite their claims, the supermarkets all still have a long way to go to help customers choose and enjoy a healthier diet .”
However, the British Retail Consortium has condemned the study as misleading.
It said the report fails failing to recognise that promotions are balanced throughout the year, with “treat” promotions more common at Easter and Christmas, while fruit and vegetables are promoted all year-round.

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