Three-quarters of consumers claim supermarkets have a role to play in making them healthier, research from management consultancy Oliver Wyman has revealed.

It conducted a survey of more than 2,900 shoppers and found that 89% said they would like to be healthier and 60% believed that supermarkets had a role to play in making them healthier. While nine out of 10 shoppers recognised that their supermarket was taking some steps, there was some unhappiness with promotions. Of those surveyed, 81% thought sugary items were on promotion more often than healthy options and 61% thought there were too many unhealthy options on sale altogether.

Consumers said they wanted their supermarket to help them be healthier with more special offers on healthy foods and fewer on sugary and fatty foods. They also called for a bigger and better range of own-brand healthy foods.

The survey also looked into whether people in the UK would use health clinics on site to help them be healthier and manage their weight. If they were free of charge, 63% said they would consider using the services, but only 23% said they would if there was a fee of £10. Some 21% said they simply did not trust supermarkets enough and would be reluctant to see them take on healthcare.

In the wake of the findings, Oliver Wyman recommended that supermarkets took on responsibility for customers’ health. It said businesses that didn’t proactively help customers make healthier food choices may lose custom. It suggested they review their promotions programmes and reduce or eliminate special offers on unhealthy products, as well as improve the choices within their healthy own-brand ranges. Secondly, it said they should help customers measure health and wellness outcomes as well as work with local health authorities to investigate the feasibility of opening small-scale walk-in clinics.

“If a food retailer could bundle together the historically fragmented approaches of managing obesity - such as community health checks, promotion of physical activity, and food labelling initiatives into one programme - then they will not only have a great customer proposition but they will also create a direct benefit to the wellbeing of people nationwide,” said Duncan Brewer, partner in Oliver Wyman’s retail practice.

“We estimate that this programme could help the overweight and obese reduce their calorie intake by 50kcal per day, creating an annual average weight loss of 2.5kg per person. Over three years, we calculate this would move 2.8 million people out of the obesity category (BMI>25kg/m2).”