RSPH and Slimming World conducted research to ask the general public about their experience of upselling – to be persuaded to buy something additional or more expensive than they otherwise would have bought – and nearly 80% of them said they had experienced being upsold to at least once in a week.

The consequence is that every three days we are offered an extra or larger portion of food or drink that is high in fat, salt or sugar.


Key points

  • More than two-thirds of the UK adult population are now overweight or obese
  • Obesity-related illness is predicted to cost the NHS £10 billion per year by the year 2050
  • The food and drink industry use a variety of marketing techniques to persuade consumers to consume more
  • Upselling is used by the food and drink industry to “persuade customers to buy something additional or more expensive” that they otherwise wouldn’t have bought
  • More than three-quarters (78%) of the public experience upselling at least once in a typical week
  • One in three buy a larger coffee than intended, upgrade to a large meal in a fast food restaurant and buy chocolate at the till in a petrol station in the course of a typical week
  • The average person in the UK will be upsold unhealthy high calorie food and drink 106 times per year
  • Drip-drip effect of regular upselling means the average person who is upsold to will consume more than 17,000 extra calories per year as a result of the upselling of unhealthy high calorie food and drink
  • People who take an upsell will generally spend around 17% more money but receive 55% more calories
  • These extra calories amount to an estimated weight gain of around 5lbs per year
  • Young people aged 18-24 are the most likely to experience upselling, consuming an additional 750 calories per week as a result and potentially gaining 11lbs in a year


  • For consumers to be more aware of additional calorie intake from upselling
  • Business rates relief for businesses that try to improve the public’s health