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Shoppers who buy discounted foods 50 per cent more likely to be obese

Sarah Young
Wednesday 27 March 2019 08:06 GMT
Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall call for childhood obesity action

People who buy food and drink on promotion are more likely to be obese than those who avoid special offers, new research suggests.

The study, conducted by Cancer Research UK, looked at the shopping habits of more than 16,000 British households.

It discovered that those whose shopping trolleys contained between 40 and 80 per cent of products that were on special offer had a 54 per cent increased chance of being overweight.

As a result, this also put them at a greater risk of 13 different types of cancer, including bowel and breast.

The study found that almost half of all chocolate, crisps, popcorn and savoury snacks were bought on promotion, with penny-pinching shoppers buying 30 per cent less fruit, and 25 per cent less vegetables than those who avoid special offers - a figure that equates to nearly 6 kilograms every month.

Cancer Research UK also discovered that approximately three in 10 food and drink products in Britons’ baskets were bought on promotion, and that people who purchased the most items on offer bought 25 per cent more products that were high in fat, salt or sugar.

Speaking about the findings, professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK’s prevention expert, said: “Promotional items offer people a wealth of tempting yet unhealthy food and drink choices when doing their weekly shop.

"With cut-price deals on things like chocolate, biscuits, cakes and fizzy drinks, it’s no surprise that people who buy more on promotion have a greater likelihood of being obese.”

Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention at Cancer Research UK agreed, adding that more needs to be done to prevent childhood obesity.

“The government’s proposed 9pm ban on junk food ads is a step forward in fighting childhood obesity,” Cox said.

“Now we want to see restrictions on price promotions for unhealthy food and drink items, as well as those strategically-placed at checkouts. This will help families to make healthier choices.

“There isn’t one magic fix for the problem, but removing these incentives to buy unhealthy food is key to changing it.”

The figures come just weeks after the Department of Health and Social Care launched a consultation on a proposed ban on two-for-one deals and celebrity endorsements of junk food.

As part of its campaign against obesity, the government is seeking to prohibit multi-buy offers at checkouts on foods high in fat, sugar and salt, unlimited refills of sugary soft drinks in restaurants and make it illegal to sell energy drinks to anyone under the age of 16.

The proposed move would also require retailers to ensure that at least 80 per cent of their sales from promotions are for healthier products.

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According to the NHS, nearly one in four children in England are obese or overweight by the time they start primary school.

These figures rise to one in three by the time they reach 11 years old.

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