Unhealthy diets impacted by supermarket catalogues

The average Australian diet has become a reflection of what we see in supermarket catalogues, according to a new study.

Big supermarket chains, including Coles, Woolworths, ALDI and IGA, have been found to advertise junk food up to ten times more frequently than fresh fruit and vegetables in their catalogues, a decision that appears to have had an impact on what we load up our trolleys with.

The study, conducted by Council Cancer Victoria for its LiveLighter campaign, analysed supermarket catalogues over a seven week period.

“What’s particularly interesting is what Australians are eating seems to be reflected in the catalogues,” said LiveLighter Dietician, Amelia Harray. “Unfortunately neither the catalogues nor Aussies are being filled with nearly enough healthy food.”

Coles appeared to be the worst offender, with junk food and sugary drinks making up 44% of catalogues, with fruit and vegetable making up only 4%, the report claimed.

“With catalogues packed full of junk food specials, supermarkets have a key role to play in what people eat,” said Ms Harray. “We know that people are heavily influenced by price, promotions and perceived savings when it comes to choosing what’s in their shopping trolley, so supermarkets have a big influence over how we plan, shop, prepare and eat food.”

This isn’t the first time supermarket catalogues have been found to negatively influence our diets, with a 2015 study by Deakin University finding that junk foods were the most promoted items in catalogues.

“The results of [the] study suggest that supermarket catalogues contribute towards an environment that supports unhealthy eating behavior,” stated senior research fellow, Dr. Adrian Cameron, at the time. “A clear opportunity exists for supermarkets to be part of the solution to the growing burden of diet-related disease by having their catalogues promote healthier foods.”

Only 5% of Australians currently meet the recommended two-and-five servings of fruit and vegetables, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while junk food makes up more than a third of our daily kilojoule intake.

“With guidelines suggesting that discretionary foods should only constitute a small component of total diet, these results show that supermarket catalogues are clearly incompatible with dietary recommendations,” said Dr. Cameron.

How can you change your eating habits?

What we eat is heavily influenced by how we feel, how much time we have, as well as how much money is currently in our wallets. Eating healthy isn’t always viable, with the allure of junk food and takeaway simply too tempting for many. But with high intakes of junk food linked to multiple health risks, perhaps it’s time to look into some healthy alternatives for you and your family.

With healthcare and Government websites containing food recommendations and guidelines readily available, it’s never been easier to find out what types of foods you should be eating every day, as well as foods that you should only be eating in moderation.

A recent Canstar Blue survey of supermarket shoppers found that 88% pay attention to special offers and promotions, while 52% tend to make impulse purchases in store.

If you’re worried about your health, or your eating habits, it’s always best to consult your local GP for advice, as well as a nutritionist or dietician if you really want to hammer down a healthy eating lifestyle.

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