The health debate around obesity has reached a “tipping point”. That is the view of Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of food and consumer goods research charity IGD. She told delegates at IGD’s Big Debate that the organisation’s analysis showed 56% of consumers were sceptical of nutrition advice.

She said: “While food companies are working hard to improve the nation’s nutrition - for example, by reformulating products or offering healthier options - obesity is still on the rise. Three quarters of shoppers feel that healthy eating is mainly about personal responsibility, but they do want more help from the industry.

“The first task is to help clear up confusion. We’re bombarded with health messages from so many sources and, often, they conflict. No wonder over half of shoppers (56%) are sceptical that the current nutrition advice is correct. The industry needs to give the clearest, simplest and most consistent messages – including information on packs.”


Earlier on at the Big Debate, IGD president and Asda boss Andy Clarke launched a new Healthy Eating campaign, which will include a major drive to educate consumers on the use of front-of-pack traffic-light labelling, as well as a drive to improve health among the food and drink workforce of more than three million people.

Denney-Finch said the Healthy Eating programme had “huge backing” from across the industry and was likely to spark a raft of innovation in health from retailers.

“In the future we’re likely to see the layout of stores, the merchandising of displays and the planning of promotions all re-thought, with healthy eating to the fore,” she said.