Health on the Shelf

Our report showcases how supermarkets can be health promoting spaces, and calls for supermarkets to play a bigger role in nudging consumers to make healthier choices

Obesity is a complex and multi-layered issue. It needs everyone – government, health professionals and industry – to find workable ways to solve the obesity epidemic and help the millions of people it already affects.

Retailers, and in particular supermarkets, have a hugely important role to play in tackling obesity. Supermarkets can create an environment which enables individuals and families to make healthier choices.

The report explores the public’s perception of supermarkets and the marketing strategies retailers use to boost sales. It also showcases how supermarkets can be health promoting spaces, and nudge customers to make healthier choices.


By 2050 it’s predicted that, in the UK, the number of adults with obesity

will rise by 73%

to 26 million

Over 1 in 3 of us

impulse purchase unhealthy products because they are on special offer in supermarkets

Of products on display at children’s eye level in UK supermarkets

89.5% of them were unhealthy

according to the Food Standards Agency’s criteria



To adopt a set of key principles to apply to all major supermarket retailers, to include:

  • Layout: Greater allocation of shelf space to healthier products, based on the Government’s EatWell guide
  • Pricing: Use cartoon characters on healthy products such as fruit and vegetables; introduce a healthy rewards scheme
  • Shopper experience: Supermarkets to introduce cookery demonstrations on how to use ingredients and provide recipe cards and advice
  • Business rate reductions for supermarkets and retailers who take health seriously by adopting key principles
  • Explore introducing a healthy rating scheme, similar to the FSA’s Food Hygiene Rating Scheme ‘scores on the doors’, based on the proportion of healthy and unhealthy products stocked

Other RSPH reports

Size Matters

We are calling for consumers to be made more aware of the practice of upselling high calorie products with raised levels of fat, salt or sugar that are likely to cause people to gain weight

Childhood obesity

Obesity costs the NHS £4.2 billion a year and without urgent and radical action, this will rise to £10 billion a year by 2050

Activity equivalent labelling

Over two-thirds of adults in the UK are now overweight or obese and evidence suggests activity equivalent calorie labelling has the potential to help moderate calorie intake