Kantar advocates shock tactics in war against obesity

Consumers need to be “shocked” into eating more healthily and tactics used by the tobacco industry should be considered in the food industry, according to consumer insights firm Kantar Worldpanel.

Giles Quick, director at Kantar, said there was a need for the food industry to take more action when it came to teaching consumers about the food they eat. “We can learn lessons from high-profile tobacco advertisements to shock people into change,” he said.

He said that, five years after the financial crisis, consumers may still be tightening their belts, but Kantar research suggests the nation’s wasteline is not shrinking.

“Saturated fat, sugar and calories are outstripping food growth; salt is the only positive story and that success is driven by manufacturer product reformulation,” Quick said. He also explained that a person with a lower income was likely to buy more calories per capita purchase.

The government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal aims to remove 5% of calories from the food chain, but Kantar data showed that calorie density in food has increased by 5%. “There is clearly a problem, which is resulting in significant obesity levels,” said Quick.

Consumers are not choosing the right foods and are accessing just 1% of the 30,000 lines offered in supermarkets. “We’re creatures of habit and yet there is nutritional choice within each category,” he added.

He said there needed to be more pressure from government to push consumers into positive action and fiscal policy should be considered to drive positive choices for consumers. He said: “We know people are motivated by price, and using price to encourage or discourage our choices will help.”


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