Australia’s top four supermarkets have been graded on their ability to provide healthy options to their customers, and the results are not good. Let’s just say, if they were the average person taking an exam, they would have failed. Big time.
The assessment was undertaken by the Global Obesity Centre, and reported on by Deakin University, and rated the top four supermarket chains on their commitment to obesity prevention. Woolworths, Aldi, Coles, and IGA were rated on based on their health initiatives, including:
- The health of their home brand products
- Unhealthy snack food advertising
- Health food prices compared to junk food
The year long study came to an end in December 2017, and the final marks were awarded, with some confronting results. Every major supermarket scored below 50 per cent.
Woolworths scored the highest, with a 46 per cent score, followed by Coles on only 40 per cent, Aldi on 11 per cent, and IGA with only 8 per cent.
According to the Australian Government, almost two thirds of Australians are obese or overweight, and that figure is rapidly climbing. And thanks to this new data, it appears that supermarket advertising could be a major contributor.
"The vast majority of Australians buy their food at supermarkets, and the way these shops are set up can heavily influence what we buy," explained researcher Gary Sacks. "This power has only grown with the significant increase in sales of own-brand products in recent years, which has meant that supermarkets are now also our biggest food manufacturers.”
The damage is not reversible however, and there are initiatives that supermarkets can take that will promote healthier purchasing. Sacks explains the UK supermarket practice of placing healthy options at checkout as one initiative that could be followed by Australian stores.
"Several UK supermarkets have committed to provide healthy checkouts, with no chocolates, soft drinks or lollies on display. Supermarkets in other countries also have a much higher proportion of healthy products featured in their weekly catalogues," says Sacks.