Tesco Clubcard data is being used in a trial to help customers reduce fat and cholesterol in their diets.
The supermarket giant today confirmed it had been taking part in a study with researchers at the University of Oxford, with doctors in the Oxford area having been asked to nominate 112 at-risk patients for the trial.
After shopping, customers have been receiving advice from a nurse or doctor on how to reduce the fat and cholesterol content of their diet.
Tesco stressed customer data would never be shared with doctors without customers’ permission, and the programme would be optional.
Tesco’s health initiatives:
• 1984: launched its Healthy Living range
• 1994: removed sweets and chocolates from checkouts in large stores
• 2002: launched a free-from range
• 2005: added nutritional information on front of packs based on GDAs
• 2016: First retailer in the UK to give kids free fruit in stores
• 2016: First supermarket below the UK government’s sugar levy across all own label soft drinks
“We’re committed to helping our customers make healthier food choices and so are pleased to partner with Oxford University on their research project. We look forward to the results of their trial,” said a Tesco spokesman.
Tesco said it had worked with a number of bodies on health initiatives including raising £22m over three years to fund prevention programmes with charities Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation, and raising over £40m for Cancer Research UK, including a 16-year partnership with Race for Life.
Recently it has stepped up its plans to nudge customers towards healthier choices.
In May, Tesco used its power aisles to encourage shoppers to ditch high fat, salt and sugar products in favour of healthier options, in what it billed as a partnership with suppliers in the fight against obesity.
Yet while this featured healthier alternatives from brands such as Coca-Cola, Irn-Bru, Kellogg’s Frosties, Heinz Salad Cream, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, KP nuts and Ritz Crackers and with a lower price point, Tesco also slashed the price of the HFSS products at the same time.
Some heath experts have been calling on the DH to tap into supermarket data and encourage retailers to start actively favouring products that are less calorific.
However, recent attempts have proved controversial.
Earlier this year Ocado added a calorie counter to its online checkouts, which flags up lower-calorie options for consumers to swap to, and brings to life exactly how hard it would be to burn that amount of calories through physical exercise.
However, there was a backlash from many customers online.
“Is this @Ocado calling me fat?,” protested one consumer on Twitter, who views were echoed by many others.
“Ocado, showing alternatives to save me money on my items, great,” tweeted another. “Showing me alternatives to ‘save on calories’. Are you after a fight?”
However, a spokesman for Ocado told The Grocer customers “loved the tool”.