Research commissioned by RSPH has found that with over three weeks to go until Easter, half (50%) of the UK public have bought and consumed at least one Easter-related chocolate, treat or cake, while almost a quarter (23%) have already bought and consumed at least one full-sized Easter egg this year. 

RSPH polling also found:

  • Over three-quarters (77%) of people think supermarkets start selling Easter eggs and other Easter related treats too early.
  • Over half (57%) of parents agree that their child has been tempted by Easter themed treats displayed near checkouts.
  • More than two-thirds (68%) of people agree that holidays or special occasions are used too much to advertise and sell unhealthy food, with over a third (38%) claiming when supermarkets push seasonal products it makes their diet less healthy than it would normally be.

Latest figures suggest that around 1 in 4 UK adults (27%) are obese, the highest rates in Western Europe. Most concerning is the prevalence of childhood obesity – among year 6 pupils, over 20% are obese and as many as 4.2% are now ‘severely obese’ (the highest rate ever).  RSPH believes that more must be done to reverse these trends, and is urging retailers to do more to encourage healthy choices and to stop pushing unhealthy products. 

With the average Easter egg equating to almost three quarters of an adults recommended daily calorie intake, RSPH is calling for retailers to end pester power strategies by limiting how early they push seasonal products which are high in fat, salt and sugar, and to remove these from supermarket checkouts.

Shirley Cramer, CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH said: “We recognise that special occasions such as Easter are a time for indulgence and treats.  However, it is clear that many shops and supermarkets are pushing products way too early – it isn’t uncommon to find Easter eggs on sale in the first week of January. Our research suggests that the public find this mildly irritating and it is just putting unnecessary temptation out there, particularly for children. If supermarkets are serious about tackling the obesity epidemic, we would urge retailers to change their marketing strategies in the interest of the public’s health.”