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What can we all do to halt the obesity crisis?

I was recently asked by the local radio station Gem 106 to provide a comment in response to the latest suggestion that a tax be applied on fizzy drinks to curb the obesity crisis.

I felt that the causes of obesity are very complex and a large intake of sugar is only one of the issues. It is about education, choices, knowledge, ability, availability, time, money etc. It would also be more helpful if the producers reduced the sugar content in fizzy drinks. And in these hard times taxing the people who have possibly been the hardest hit already was not going to have a significant effect on the figures. 

We all have a part to play in reducing the levels of obesity. Schools need to continue with their healthy eating programmes, including the breakfast clubs – did you know almost half of boys and over a third of girls aged 13 go without breakfast, as do 29% of 11-year-old girls and 26% of 11-year-old boys. Parents need to provide a variety of nutritious family meals and Supermarkets need to offer a wide range of healthy foods at affordable prices.

Supermarkets have massive advertising budgets so they can afford to advertise their produce on prime time TV, for instance over recent weeks in stand alone commercials Morrison’s have offered Cadbury’s feast sized bags of chocolate at better than half price and the Coop have advertised two tins of Celebrations etc for £9.  Sainsbury’s were also offering 25% off 6 or more bottles of wine. I have yet to see similar offers for fresh fruit, seasonal vegetables or healthy range products.

Ultimately we have the final say over what goes in our trollies, don’t we?

Maybe not! There is something called shopping psychology. An Asda executive recently revealed on the ‘Today programme’ they have ‘guilty checkouts’ (more commonly known as "impulse areas” or “golden zones"), by which they mean areas laden with tempting treats to reward the shopper and to make the supermarkets a nice profit

Another ploy at their disposal is called ‘buy level’ a shelving height somewhere between waist and chest height, which is where your eyes will naturally roam when you look for, items. So of course these are much sought after by companies wanting you to buy their products. Check out these shelves next time you are shopping what types of goods do they stock at this ‘buy level’? They even place goods aimed at children on a lower ‘buy level’. I bet on the cereal aisles you’ll find the sweet, chocolaty sugary variety there and not the oat, bran or wholemeal ones!

What can you do to help you and your family stay healthy when you go shopping?

  • Plan your meals before you go shopping.
  • Always go with a list – 8 out of 10 of us don’t!
  • Only go down the aisles that you want to not the ones the supermarkets want you to go down (watch out for the bright yellow banners).
  • Don’t shop whilst you’re hungry – it will affect your shopping choices.
  • BOGOFs - Always compare prices before you buy, check the price per kilo, it may not be cheaper to buy the offers.
  • Don’t be tempted to put the sweets and chocolate that are located near the checkouts into your trolley. They are there to tempt you!
  • Only buy special offers if you are sure you will use them and not throw them away.
  • Learn to love your freezer – many items that you overbuy can be portioned up and frozen. So freeze it don’t waste it.

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG2

Written by Susan Hart, Nutrition Coach, cook and food writer MFHT, MFNT

Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG2

As a nutrition coach I believe in and practice healthy eating. But why should you, your family or your organisation be concerned about what you eat? Because eating healthily helps you look and feel better.Did you know that two out of three adults in England are overweight? This can impair well-being...

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