We are calling on the government to honour its commitment to restrict the promotion of unhealthy foods, after new research reveals young families are the least likely to shop for healthy options.
Alongside the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK, we commissioned a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people which has shown that that families want to make healthier choices when they shop but struggle to do so.
The new research shows that young families have a higher proportion of unhealthy foods in their basket (39.3%) compared to older customers (32.5%).
Cost and taste were shown to be two key factors that influence decisions to try new foods and drinks. Respondents were more willing to try new, healthier products that were on special offer at reduced prices as it made them less of a risk to try.
The survey found that while many people know the principles of healthy eating, there is a disconnect between people’s intentions and their actual purchasing and consumption behaviour.
Among all ages, snacks such as crisps, biscuits, chocolates and sweets were the largest contributor to the unhealthy items in shopping baskets.
What we want to see happen
Living with overweight or obesity can increase your risk of heart and circulatory diseases like heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia, type 2 diabetes, and 13 different types of cancer.
Though the government set out its ambition in 2018 to halve childhood obesity by 2030 in England, a series of missed opportunities and push backs in legislation has stalled vital progress. Currently, more than one in three children (37.8%) in England leave primary school with overweight or obesity.
The government’s decision to delay implementing restrictions on volume promotions of unhealthy foods like buy one-get-one-free or multibuy on foods high in fat, salt, and/or sugar (HFSS), and on TV and online advertising restrictions, is harmful.
One of the biggest influences on our diet is the world around us, and we are calling for a legislative and regulatory framework that will help the food industry create a healthier environment for shoppers.
But action can’t stop there. The government should also explore financial incentives for businesses to drive reformulation, which is the reduction of salt, calories and sugar and saturated fat in processed foods. It’s also vital that manufacturers shift the marketing of healthier products to focus on flavour as well as health benefits.
We are also calling on supermarkets to increase the proportion of promotions on non-HFSS food and drink products to help steer families towards healthier and more affordable choices, particularly during the cost-of-living crisis.
Read our full report: Trolley Trends: Shifting the nation towards healthier shopping (PDF, 1,495KB)