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Supermarkets put junk food on special twice as often as healthy food, and that’s a problem


Half-price chips, “two for one” chocolates, “buy one get one free” soft drinks: Australian supermarkets make it very easy for us to fill our trolleys with junk food.

Add in the bonus of an Ooshie or a Little Shop collectable and you’re likely going home with a pile of products that will fill out both your pantry and your waistline.

We looked at supermarket specials over a year to see how healthy they were. The results of our research, published today, show junk foods are discounted, on average, twice as often as healthy foods.




Read more:
How we get sucked in by junk food specials in supermarkets


Australians buy about two-thirds of their food and drink at the supermarket, and 40% of their foods on special. We know environments dominated by heavily promoted junk foods are a key driver of unhealthy diets.

Where unhealthy diets are one of the leading contributors to poor health in Australia, the way supermarkets apply discounts needs to change. We all love a bargain, but we may be paying the real price with our health.

Junks foods attract more specials, and bigger discounts

In our research, junk foods included chocolate, chips, confectionery, ice cream and high-sugar breakfast cereals. We found these sorts of products were on special twice as often as healthy foods – 29% versus 15% of the time.

We also looked at how discounts varied according to the healthiness of the products. We assessed the “healthiness” of foods using the Health Star Rating system – an Australian government-endorsed scheme that gives each product a score out of five.

We found the more stars a food product had, the less often it was on special, and the smaller the discount when it was. Discounts applied to junk foods were, on average, almost twice as large as discounts on healthier options (26% off versus 15% off).