"Supermarkets are designed to make people fat"


Neighbourhood stores and convenience stores often display unhealthy snacks and sugar-rich beverages in an all-too prominent way, according to a British study. Health organisations have met the challenge of developing a more balanced store layout.



Candy, crisps, sugar-rich beverages and other unhealthy products are featured more prominently than other, healthier food products in the growing branch of convenience and neighbourhood stores. Studies have shown that nine out of ten products at eye level are unhealthy. The same is true for products on gondola end caps or near the registers, making it more difficult for shoppers to resist the temptation: one in three customers buys candy on an impulse. This is how supermarkets make people fat, claims the report Health On The Shelf, an initiative of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) in collaboration with Slimming World.


The RSPH calls for food stores to reconsider their layout, so as to help Britain fight the battle against obesity. The UK has the worst obesity statistics of Western Europe. Propositions have been made to ban the selling of candy at the register as well as stunt promotions for unhealthy products, but nothing concrete has been done. In an effort to set a good example, the RSPH has now opened the very first neighbourhood supermarket in the UK that was designed by health experts to encourage consumers to make healthier choices.


No patronising

The pop-up store, entitled 'Nudge', was created in an outlet of The People's Supermarket in the heart of London. The store gives customers Nudge points when they switch to a low-fat version of a product, for example. The store and shelf layout are in line with recommendations for a balanced diet, with healthier options displayed at eye level. Employees have also received basic training in nutrition. The store hands out free samples of cheap and nutritious consumables and organises cooking demonstrations in its own kitchen, with matching recipe cards.


RSPH emphasises this is not intended to be patronising. The reworked supermarket still sells candy and soft drinks, but it simply makes it easier for customers to choose healthier options. The video below shows how the transformation was done: