It is no secret that the UK, along with many other countries, is facing an obesity crisis. According to a report by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), almost three in four UK adults will be overweight or obese by 2035 if the current trends continue, writes HIM’s Heidi Lanschuetzer.

The NHS claims that these forecasts could mean they will bankrupt it. But why has the UK been hit with this epidemic? Isn’t the choice of shoppers to eat healthily?

Healthy food and drink should not be luxuries. Just like in higher income groups, many consumers in lower-income groups have the desire to improve their diets and lead a healthier lifestyle, too. HIM research shows that C2DE shoppers (39%) and ABC1 shoppers (41%) are almost equally likely to rate a range of healthy products as very important or important (8, 9 or 10 out of 10).

However, with price being highlighted an important feature in buying food for three out of four (74%) shoppers, it comes with little surprise that price is commonly cited as a barrier to consuming healthier food among those in the lower-income groups.

It’s clear that a proactive approach is needed and that suppliers and retailers must work more closely together to make healthier options more accessible to shoppers.

There is a huge opportunity for both manufacturers and retailers to take a proactive approach in making healthy foods more accessible and affordable to a wider population, and in doing so staying ahead of the ‘state stick’ and boosting their reputation as being socially responsible.

Convenience is a key driver for meal choice among c-store shoppers. For instance, two-thirds of meal-for-tonight shoppers use at least some pre-prepared items when cooking their evening meal (HIM). Therefore, making it easy for shoppers to choose a healthier option over a not-so-healthy one is paramount. A big enough and clearly labelled choice of better-for-you ready meals and meal solutions should be part of a convenience store retailer’s range.