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UK public's spending habits influenced by availability of clear food labelling our poll shows


Six in 10 people would be more likely to buy food from an eating establishment that provided traffic light labelling on menus and packaging, our poll has revealed. 

  • Our UK poll done by ComRes, finds six in 10 respondents say they are more likely to spend their money in an eating establishment that provides traffic light labelling, and almost six in 10 (59%) say they are more likely to eat where there is calorie labelling on food menus/packaging 
  • Almost seven in 10 (69%) say price promotions on healthy food would make them more likely to eat in a particular eating establishment .
  • Our Food Upfront campaign is calling for mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labelling on all pre-packaged food, and calorie labelling in cafes and restaurants. 

The survey of 2,121 UK adults, carried out by ComRes on our behalf, shows that the majority of the UK public’s spending habits eating outside the home might be positively influenced by how easily they understand what is in the food and drink they’re buying. Almost six in 10 (59%) also said that they were more likely to buy from an eating establishment where calorie labelling on food menus/ packaging was available.

The findings come from our Food Upfront campaign, which is calling on the government to: 

  • Commit to introducing mandatory front-of-pack traffic light labelling to all pre-packaged food and drinks, and
  • Urge medium-to-large food establishments to provide customers with calorie information on their menus with additional nutritional information, such as carbohydrate content, available online or when asked in store.

The findings shed light on how the availability of clear labelling on food and drink could considerably influence the spending habits of the UK public. The poll also revealed that almost seven-in-ten (69%) of respondents said they would be more likely to buy food from an establishment that offered price promotions on healthy food options, while 57% said they’d be more likely to buy food, if the establishment offered a ‘reduced calorie’ range.

We believe clearer food labelling – both in shops and in out-of-home settings – will help the public make healthier choices at home and while eating out, and in turn help to stem the rising tide of Type 2 diabetes diagnoses. 

Currently two-thirds of adults in the UK are overweight or obese, which is a significant risk factor for the condition. Further, one in three children in England are either overweight or obese before they leave primary school.

These simple steps by the government could make a significant difference in enabling people to make healthier choices, and in turn reduce the impact of obesity on the health of the nation. 

Helen Dickens, our Assistant Director of Campaigns and Mobilisation said: “We already know that people living with diabetes want more information about what’s in the food and drink they buy, but what’s interesting is understanding how the availability of better nutritional labelling influence the spending habits of the public as a whole.

“These findings are a clear indicator, not only to the government, but also to the food and drink and service industries, that the public has an appetite to see better information about the food they’re buying, and they’re willing to vote with their wallets. It’s not just good for the health of the public; it’s good for business as well. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the government, and industry, to ignore the wishes of the consumer. The British public have spoken, and it’s time for government to act, and take this simple, bold step to improving the health of the nation.”

As well as providing useful information to the public as a whole, food labelling is incredibly important in helping people living with diabetes manage their condition and reduce their risk of serious complications.

Understanding the carbohydrate content of food is vital for people with diabetes who make adjustments to their insulin dose by counting their carbs. That’s why as part of the Food Upfront campaign we are also calling for carbohydrate content per 100g and per portion to be displayed clearly and consistently on the back of all pre-packaged foods and drinks.

ComRes Poll

ComRes interviewed 2,121 UK adults aged 18+ between 12 and 14 January 2018. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults by age, gender, region and social grade. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be accessed on the ComRes website

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