Asda and a number of leading suppliers spearheading the government’s anti-obesity drive have found themselves under fire from opponents who claim they are unfairly boosting their profits.

The retailer, as well as companies such as Kellogg’s and Warburtons, are offering thousands of families the chance to save money on healthier products as well as taking part in activities to encourage better eating habits.

‘The Really Big Summer Adventure,’ part of the government’s Change4Life campaign, includes a booklet of vouchers giving families more than £50 off healthy food and drinks, with discounts on a range of Asda products such as Golden Delicious apples, grapes, spinach and turkey breast slices, as well as Warburtons wholemeal bread and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies

Critics said this week the strategy would boost Asda’s profits but would not necessarily boost the healthy of children, claiming some of the products have been labelled the worst offenders for salt and sugar content.

Charlie Powell, campaign director of Sustain, the food policy pressure group, said the policy was an “advertising campaign, a gimmick”, adding: “It’s hugely ineffective. All the companies are concerned about is making profits for their shareholders. It will not change people’s long-term behaviour.’

However, public health minister Anne Milton, strongly backed the role being played by the supermarket chain and its suppliers.

“It’s important parents are given as much help and support as possible over the summer holidays to help keep their children healthy and active,” she said.

“Having these major brands and partners on board enables us to use the powerful influence these companies have - greatly increasing the reach of the campaign." 

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Supermarkets throw weight behind public health Responsibility Deal (15 March 2011)