Why is it Important for Supermarkets to Promote Healthy Eating for Customers and Staff?

The need for supermarkets to provide customer guidance towards healthier shopping baskets is significant given the increasing rate and extent of overweight and obesity among adults and children in Australia.

Almost 60% of South Australian adults and 24.7% of children are overweight or obese – an increase from an estimated 5% in the 1960s. This is due to a combination of eating too many kilojoules , and not being active enough to use the kilojoules eaten, leading to fat storage as excess weight.

The majority of people buy most of their food from supermarkets, which now provide and promote a vast range of both healthy and unhealthy foods. What customers eat is up to them, but they need to be able to make informed choices, and have a range of healthy options to choose from.

The Huge Cost of Obesity

Obesity and its impact on our population, including our workforce, is costing South Australia billions of dollars in health care costs and lost productivity, not to mention poor health and suffering for many experiencing health complications of obesity.

The state’s total cost of obesity in 2008 was estimated at $4.3 billion. Unhealthy workers adversely impact on production and employment costs. Access Economics estimated productivity losses from obesity for South Australia in 2008 to be $273 million.

It’s in every employer’s best interest to support staff to make healthy food choices and be active. For major employers and food providers such as supermarkets, this flows through to also supporting their customers in this.

Supermarkets are Part of the Solution

The obesity problem, and the need for all industry sectors to play a part in turning the tide against it, is being acknowledged worldwide. The WHO’s Global Strategy on diet, physical activity and health states that the private sector can be a “significant player” in promoting healthy diets and physical activity.