The Salty Seduction of Supermarket Snacks
How size & spacing of snack foods influences our shopping experience
Walking into a supermarket, it seems impossible to avoid the onslaught of sugary, salty and fatty foods. Chips. Chocolates. Candy. Soft drinks. These products entice us with their perfect display.
Getting into the blogging spirit, I went on a reconnaissance mission and visited two major supermarket chains. How bad could this super-sized shopping environment be?
At first the mountainous snack foods appeared over the top and comical. However, my take-away snappy shots were capturing a serious problem. It was frightening.
Can we blame ourselves for foraging on chips and chocolates when we’re associating food with this environment?
Supermarkets are a main source of food for most Melbournian households. They are located in close proximity to our homes, and provide ease and convenience. However, environmental factors impact our dietary behaviour.
With so many people buying food from their local supermarket, they become an influential place for the public’s diet, and an important consideration for health and nutrition research.
Aren’t supermarket people meant to be the fresh food people?
One Melbourne supermarket audit showed it has 1070 snack food items and 863 different beverages available. 70% of these were considered inconsistent with a healthy diet.
Evidence is showing a correlation between the purchase of highly processed snack foods and obesity. Rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases are rising in Australia.
While these snack food items are labeled as discretionary choices in our Australian Dietary Guidelines. There is nothing discretionary here.
Impulsive shopping purchases are often unhealthy and influenced by in store displays and promotions. Food companies know it. Supermarkets parade snack foods at the entrance, end of aisles display, in island bins, at the checkout, and in designated snack food aisles. Nowhere is immune. Study
Research has shown that Australian supermarkets dedicate 45.8 meters of shelf space to energy dense snack foods.We have 18.4 meters allocated for soft drinks alone. These figures only leave Australia behind the United Kingdom in allocated space to snack foods, and we beat out the United States, Canada and every other developed nation in the study.
Supermarket corporations have even studied lighting, music, spacing of tables or shelves, and width of aisles. They create selling environments. Study
Shouldn’t we be surrounding ourselves in a shopping environment that is supportive of a healthy lifestyle?
People should not feel responsible for poor food choices when these unhealthy foods are paraded in front of us. It isn’t easy changing eating practices on our own.
Don’t we want to be able to go the local shops and feel happy in selecting fresh and wholesome foods? We need government policies which are supportive of us as the consumer – not the corporation.