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Supermarket Discounts Promote Unhealthy Choices

27 May 2009 Wiley

Supermarket shoppers may be encouraged to buy sugar-filled, calorie-rich drinks by discounts and promotions, according to New Zealand research.

A study, published in Nutrition & Dietetics by Wiley-Blackwell, found healthy drinks were less likely to be discounted in supermarkets. And the amount of the discount was greater on products higher in fat, sugar and energy.

The researchers looked at about 1,500 discounts over a month in four supermarkets across Wellington. They found only 15 per cent of all the non-alcoholic drinks discounted were classed as ‘healthy'.

‘Our study shows healthy drinks are discounted less often than unhealthy drinks. But there are more unhealthy drinks available in supermarkets and this may explain some of the difference,' said author Louise Signal from the University of Otago.

‘Given the influence discounts can have on what shoppers purchase, supermarkets could promote healthy options by discounting the products that are nutritious and contain less saturated fat and added sugar' said Claire Hewat, Chief Executive Office of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA).

She said this would encourage shoppers to purchase healthier choices at the supermarket and would be an important step in addressing overweight and obesity.

As part of its comprehensive obesity strategy, DAA is calling for healthy food to be more readily available and affordable for all Australians, tighter government regulation of food marketing, and clearer nutrition information on food labels.

Beverages classed as ‘healthy' in the study were water, plain reduced-fat milk and plain reduced-fat soy beverages. And those in the ‘unhealthy' group included sweetened carbonated beverages, sports beverages and flavored waters and cordial.

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