Here’s how supermarkets can defeat obesity

WHO predicts that 74% of men and 64% of women in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2030.

Obesity is winning.

It’s an expensive defeat, not just costing millions of people their health and well-being but also the besieged NHS over £15 billion a year.

Why can’t we reverse the trend and out think obesity?

There’s plenty of people trying. The Government is funding a public health programme, Silicon Valley’s big tech companies are releasing wearable health trackers and software, there’s a load of Apps that neatly prescribe a healthy diet, whole websites full of good information and Jaime Oliver making TV shows and a TED talk (which is excellent).

These things exhibit clear messaging, good design and innovative functionality.

But they are having no effect.


Right information. Wrong place.

They are specialised ‘healthy’ resources and require time and effort to seek out and use. They are not a part of everyday life.

People are busy. Children. Work. Money. Bills. Love. Friends. Cars. Family. Gardens. Enemies. Pets. TV. Hobbies. Many people have no time or mental space to consider something else complicated, like a whole new diet.

To cut through that noise, we need a ridiculously simple way to let anybody (including busy working parents) know how healthy their diet is.

What if supermarket receipts looked like this…

The nutritional data for the entire shop is tallied up and printed onto the receipt using the familiar and easy to understand traffic light system. There’s a lot of red there, so it’s clear that food choices could be improved.

With this information, the complexity of the issue is dismantled and in one simple graphic anybody can get a good idea of how healthy their diet is.

Imagine a young mum who shops for her family. Week after week, receipt after receipt, the graphics stay red. How long could she ignore this information? How long before it prompts her into action to make some changes?

The supermarket could facilitate these changes with a set of digital tools and resources that help customer’s choose a healthier diet.

A particularly good tool would allow users to set their shopping budget and get healthy, personalised recommendations against it. Perhaps settling the debate on whether it’s possible to live healthily on a tight budget.

Integrate these tools into existing loyalty schemes and online shops and a valuable relationship between store and customer would be created.

But more importantly, it’ll get more receipts looking like this…

Of course to have a real impact, Tesco’s, ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Waitrose, Lidl, Aldi or M&S would have to introduce it. The government could make it law, but that seems unlikely considering all the bullshit around the sugar tax proposals.

I’d certainly like to see one of the major supermarkets step up and introduce a system like this.

If you’re someone who works in retail, interested in helping to make this happen, or you’ve got ideas to make it better — Please get in touch. I’d like very much to hear from you.

You can email me: Hayden [@]

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