Can supermarkets help turn the tide on obesity?

New report shows results of London-based supermarket trials to promote healthier diets and lifestyles
  • The Consumer Goods Forum’s Collaboration for Healthier Lives UK (CHL UK) initiative brings together retailers, manufacturers and other key stakeholders
  • Some of the results from successful trials highlight 13% more fruit and vegetables sold and 22% fewer packets of confectionary sold

In October 2020, the Consumer Goods Forum and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, published a review of the Collaboration for Healthier Lives UK’s first year. CHL UK brings together some of the biggest global retailers and manufacturers as well as public bodies, civil society and academics to better support public health.

Launched just over a year ago, CHL UK’s ambition is to help customers and employees understand, access and afford healthier options, while also ensuring shared value for business and communities. Leveraging Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity’s local insights and close relationships within the community, CHL UK focuses on supporting behavioural change and positively impacting consumer health in the London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, two areas with significant inequalities between low-income and more affluent neighbourhoods and home to over 600,000 consumers.

The report, titled ‘Can Supermarkets Help Turn the Tide on Obesity?, showcases the different interventions that were tested to encourage healthier baskets, such as changes to pricing and promotions, availability, choice architecture, shelf and nutritional labelling as well as social feedback techniques. With the support of the University of Oxford, who have led the data analysis, some of the trials that were evaluated found that:

  • Companies were able to influence the healthiness of consumer shopping baskets
  • Impactful trials could be relatively simple and commercially sustainable
  • Trials that both increase the purchase of healthier foods and decrease the purchase of less healthy foods are required to support healthier diets
  • Trials using pricing and promotional tactics increase the availability of healthier options
  • Some choice architecture trials have shown a significant and positive impact.

Some of the results from successful trials highlight:

  • 13% more fruit and vegetables sold
  • 19% less fried chips sold, substituted for a healthier baked variety
  • 22% fewer packets of confectionary sold

Whilst outstanding questions about these trials remain– including how long the improvements can be sustained – the report identifies clear potential for companies to improve consumer health and shape consumer demand.

Judith Robinson, Head of Health, Tesco & CHL UK Co-chair said: “As a co-chair, I am delighted with the progress CHL UK has made in the first year. Starting with Lambeth and Southwark has been challenging but the CHL UK team have worked with public health authorities and local experts to help shape the interventions that we’ve trialled. By sharing our data with the University of Oxford, we are showing our commitment to deepening the understanding of what works so that we can make quicker progress based on the evidence.”

Richard Hall, VP and General Secretary UK & Ireland, Danone CHL UK Co-Chair said: “The breadth of the stakeholder group involved in CHL UK is enabling us to understand how to evolve the way we operate and to achieve real progress. Whilst we are proud to have delivered concrete actions leading to healthier shopping baskets, we are clear that this is just the beginning. The learnings from this report will help us improve next year.

Wai-Chan Chan, Managing Director, The Consumer Goods Forum said: “Our members are stepping up to the challenge, but we know we can’t do this alone. We ask governments and local authorities to join us. We need to come together if we are to drive impact and sustainable change at scale.

Kieron Boyle, Chief Executive, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity said: “We’re pleased to be able to help CHL UK members to design impactful interventions based on local insights and evidence. We’re interested in this work both to support local families in Lambeth and Southwark to live healthier lives but also to build a deeper understanding of what works in practice, with the aim of identifying which interventions are impactful, sustainable and scalable enough to be rolled out on a national or global scale.”

With the learnings from the report, CHL UK aims to continue reaching those on the lowest incomes and at greatest risk of health inequality, designing interventions that work for everyone, as well as grow in membership, geographic reach, and number of trials deployed and scaled.

For more information, download the report, which is also available via the CGF’s Global Learning Mechanism.


About the contributors

About The Consumer Goods Forum

The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises more than 58 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit:


About  Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity is an independent urban health foundation. The Charity focuses on tackling complex health issues that are prevalent in its local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, but also relevant to other urban areas across the UK and internationally. Childhood obesity is one of four core programmes focused on specific complex health issues. The partnership with CHL UK is one part of a larger group of projects in the Charity’s Childhood Obesity programme; which aims to tackle the inequality that exists for children and families in accessing nutritious diets. For more information, please visit


For further information, please contact:

Lee Green
Communications Director
The Consumer Goods Forum


Lauren Gasser
Communications Manager
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity


This article was contributed by The Consumer Goods Forum and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.