Shoppers could be consuming an extra 17,000 calories a year thanks to retailers up-selling unhealthy food and drink
Tactics used by food retailers to up-sell junk food could lead customers to consume an extra 17,000 calories in a year, a new report claims.
According to the Size Matters report by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Slimming World, the average consumer faces more than 100 attempts by retailers including cafes, fast food chains, cinemas and petrol stations to up-sell unhealthy food and drink each year.
Over the course of a week, verbal up-selling by staff led one in three people to buy a larger coffee than they intended, upgrade to a large meal in a fast food outlet and buy chocolate at the till in petrol stations and newsagents.
The “drip drip effect” of being up-sold to larger portions 106 times a year leads the average person to consume an extra 330 calories a week, or 17,000 calories across the year, and potentially gain 2.3kg, the report calculated.
The survey of 2,000 people found those aged 18-24 are the most likely to experience up-selling, with the study finding that they consume an extra 750 calories a week as a result, potentially gaining 5kg in a year.
The RSPH and Slimming World are calling on businesses to pledge to only up-sell healthy food and drink.
They have also urged businesses not to link staff pay to the up-selling of junk food, and have introduced the hashtag #JustThisThanks to encourage consumers to insist on buying only what they initially asked for.
RSPH chief executive Shirley Cramer said: “Obesity is the public health challenge of our generation and if not addressed urgently could tip over the point of no return.”
She added: “We hope that through this work the public can become more aware of how businesses target them with up-selling and help people to maintain a healthy weight.”
Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “It’s all too easy to eat more than we need when we are encouraged to buy larger sizes, add unhealthy extras or take advantage of special offers when it comes to unhealthy food and drink.
“There is clear evidence that marketing techniques persuade us to eat and drink more of the wrong types of food and this is driving the obesity epidemic.
“The food industry can play a vital role by helping to make healthier choices the easy choice and creating a healthier food environment for us all.”