It’s no secret that the UK is fast turning into a nation of fatties. Research suggests that by 2012, ironically when the Olympics arrive on our shores for the first time in 64 years, one in three UK adults will be grossly overweight. The problem already costs the NHS £1 billion per annum and causes an estimated 9000 premature deaths every year. And Britain is even predicted to overtake the much-maligned USA as the fattest nation on Earth.
But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that its promotional efforts to tackle the problem are paying off. Programs by the likes of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and even Supersize Me ‘victim’ McDonald’s are having an impact on the public consciousness, according to the BRC. It says that its initiatives surrounding portion sizes, product labelling and nutritional information on menus, and the subsequent media coverage these are gaining, are getting the obesity message across “more effectively than any law could”.
The Consortium says that it has a “substantial catalogue of evidence” that shows that its members efforts (these also include the likes of Marks & Spencer and Burger King) to promote a healthy lifestyle are having a major impact. I can’t, however, help but be a little sceptical. In fact, when I read this I nearly spat out my doughnut.
There’s no doubting that media coverage about obesity has increased substantially over the last few years, whether it’s been Gillian McKeith trying to bully us all into eating mung beans or more subtle, healthy recipes in the print media. But these have arguably been tempered by the negative publicity surrounding the likes of confusion around product labelling standards. Can the power of the media beat the power of a take-away Chicken Tikka? Time will tell…