Taking a look at Australian shoppers’ attitudes toward obesity

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Taking a look at Australian shoppers’ attitudes toward obesity

72 per cent have had to lose weight

69 per cent say obese people take more sick leave

Almost a quarter say government should guide new parents

Coles released new research revealing what its customers think about obesity in Australia.

The survey, published for the first national Obesity Australia conference in Canberra, reveals high awareness of the potentially fatal disorders associated with obesity – more than 90 per cent awareness that heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure can be caused by obesity. Despite being well informed of the dangers of being overweight, nearly three quarters of customers have had reason to lose weight and 67 per cent of these customers say they struggled to meet or maintain their target weight because of a lack of will power.

More than a third of customers believe that obesity is a disease which cannot be tackled by changing eating habits alone, with around a quarter believing that pregnancy and parenting is a key time for government action. Thirty per cent of customers also felt that government should underwrite weight loss programs and surgical procedures.

Coles conducted the research with Obesity Australia to inform its own strategy for health which aims to help customers by making healthier products better, more affordable and more convenient.

Through this strategy Coles has already:
 Seen a 20 per cent increase in fruit and vegetable sales this year thanks to our fresh produce Super Specials. This means customers bought 25 million more fresh fruit or vegetable products.
 Removed 30 tonnes of salt a year from customers’ diets.
 Added advice for pregnant women on private label alcohol packaging and distributed Drinkwise information though our liquor stores.
 Encouraged kids to get active by providing more than $10 million of sports equipment to more than 7500 Australian schools last year.

Speaking at the Canberra summit Coles’ General Manager of Coles Brands Tina Jeary said that understanding consumer attitudes to obesity would help Coles develop better products and services:

“Our research shows that customers are aware of what causes obesity and the impact it has on health and lifestyle. They feel that as a nation we are getting heavier not healthier. But despite a good knowledge of the issues most customers have still struggled with weight at some point in their lives.

“As a food retailer we play an important role in helping customers make healthier choices. We know that value is top of mind for most families and really drives their purchasing decisions. So we are making healthier food, especially fruit and vegetables, more affordable and we’re developing better products that are better for you. But we need to continue listening to customers’ and understand the barriers they may face to leading healthier lifestyles so that we can work with government, community and health groups to meet their needs.”

Obesity Australia Chair, Professor John Funder said: “The Coles findings are fascinating and far-reaching. Their respondents show a very good appreciation of the extent to which overweight and obesity are an issue in the Australian population. In addition, they understand the need for Government support not only around pregnancy and parenting, but also of accredited weight loss programs and medical/surgical approaches to severe obesity. This is a very persuasive evidence base upon which more effective policies can be designed to staunch the flow into obesity, and to mitigate the societal costs – personal, medical and in terms of productivity – of established obesity.”

Source: Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association

Date Created: December 12, 2012

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