Australians struggle to avoid junk food supermarket specials

Peter Terlato 11 October 2016

soft drink

It's tough to pass up a bargain, despite how bad it may be for our health.

Despite the healthiest of intentions, many Australians are likely to purchase lollies, soft drinks and other savoury and sugary snacks if these items are discounted or on sale at their local supermarket, according to new survey results.

Coinciding with World Obesity Day (11 October), public health organisation LiveLighter released its Shape of Australia survey, revealing almost two-thirds (65%) of Aussie shoppers usually pre-plan their meals and around half (51%) often compare products based on their healthiness.

However, two out of three (60%) were also likely to buy unhealthy food and drinks on sale or promotion.

The most popular sale items were confectionery and chocolate (67%), potato chips and savoury biscuits (66%) and sugary drinks including soft drinks, cordial and energy drinks (65%).

"Regular consumption of high kilojoule food and drinks can lead to weight gain and a build-up of toxic fat around your organs, which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers," Heart Foundation Victoria's healthy living manager Roni Beauchamp said.

These stats are troubling, considering the leading cause of death in Australia is heart disease, while diabetes also ranks among the top ten most prolific killers.

The 2016 CSIRO Healthy Diet Score report, released last month, revealed Australian diets scored just 59 out of 100, with only 1% of respondents avoiding junk food entirely.

So how does it happen? The survey discovered that shoppers who visit the supermarket every day or more than a few times per week were decidedly more likely (67%) to buy unhealthy sale items than those who shopped just once each week (54%).

LiveLighter suggests these cost-effective tips for a healthier supermarket trolley:

  • Save money by making healthy snacks at home - they’re better for you, too
  • Compare the true cost of purchases using the unit price on the shelf label (e.g. $ per kg or 100g)
  • Write a meal plan and a shopping list and stick to it
  • Spend more of your food budget on healthy foods to save money at the checkout
  • Limit your visits to the supermarket each week
  • Avoid going to the supermarket on an empty stomach

While vegetarianism is now a trendy lifestyle choice, there's still an astronomically high number of Australians who don't consume the recommended amounts of fruit and veggies.

Healthy eating has often been marred by the assumption that it is more costly and uninspiring. To combat this myth, we've compiled an A-Z on eating well for cheap.

Want to get fit? Try using a fitness tracker to motivate yourself to exercise or eat more healthily.

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