The Deakin University Inside our Supermarkets report comes as obesity and diet-related poor health is increasing in Australia. Two out of every three adults are overweight or obese in the country.
Ballarat Community Health General Manager of Prevention and System Development Katherine Cape said, “Health professionals can only do so much, unless this becomes a systemwide approach with health professionals, food producers, food distributors and the government working together.”
The Inside our Supermarkets report found that no supermarket companies had formal policies in place to reduce the exposure of children and adolescents to marketing of less healthy foods. It also revealed no companies had taken significant action to restrict the availability of less healthy foods in-store, such as at checkouts, and no companies had made a commitment to restrict promotions on such products in catalogues and in stores.
“I think restricting promotion of unhealthy food in catalogues and the placement of chocolate bars at checkouts are probably the two significant things that came out of the report that would really make a difference,” Cape said. “We are very pleased to see some supermarkets are making confectionery-free checkout aisles and we would love to see that happening more.”
The report also recommends all supermarkets commit to implementing the Australian government’s health star rating system across all private brand products, and limit price promotions on unhealthy products.
Woolworths was rated as the top supermarket for policies and commitments related to obesity prevention and nutrition, according to the Inside our Supermarkets report, while IGA was at the bottom of the big four.