Report calls on big supermarkets to flex their muscles in the ‘fight against fat’


  • Fighting Fat report published following Government announcement of the sugar levy in March 
  • Grocers have the power to save 1MM people from being obese and 1.5MM from being overweight in the next three years1
  • Initiative could see ‘aerobics in the aisles’ – with fitness classes and wellness clinics in store
  • Customer retention would increase, boosting grocers’ competitive advantage in a difficult market


16 May 2016 — London — The UK’s supermarkets hold the answer to solving the country’s deepening obesity crisis, enhancing the positive impact of the recently announced sugar levy, according to a new report by global management consultancy Oliver Wyman.


With 25% of UK adults being obese and obesity-related ill-health costing the NHS £5.1BN a year, the Fighting Fat report published today outlines how the dominant ‘Big Four’ grocers can use their considerable influence to adopt an integrated approach to managing obesity. Introducing community health checks, promoting physical activity and food labelling initiatives into one ‘wellness’ offering, food retailers will not only be leaders in combatting the UK obesity crisis, but will have a ground-breaking proposition for customers.


Dr Nick Harrison, the European Retail Practice Co-Leader at Oliver Wyman, who led the report, said:


“Grocers are continuing to face performance challenges and competition from discounters and online retailers. By providing customers with new experiences and services related to wellness, they could strengthen their loyalty proposition to give them a significant competitive advantage. The race is now on for the first retailer to put our recommendations into practice in order to get a head start within this highly competitive retail environment.”

Fighting Fat sets out how a new food labelling system giving products an overall ‘Health Score’ will help customers make healthy choices. It also recommends incentivising exercise via supermarket loyalty schemes – with fitness classes and wellness clinics offered in store – to integrate diet and activity and positively influence the habits of millions adults who visit supermarkets at least once a week.


Dr Nick Harrison concluded: 


“Just two months after the announcement of the impending sugary soft drinks levy, now is the time for grocers to get ahead of the curve and anticipate the changes that Government will make in the coming years to tackle the obesity crisis. The sugar levy is a first step by Government to improve the public’s eating habits and combating sugar intake is only part of the picture. A comprehensive approach that touches every aspect of daily life is needed. Grocers have the opportunity to harness their customer relationships, take up the mantle and recognise their role as key players in the fight against obesity – for the good of the public’s health.”


1Estimated figures calculated by Oliver Wyman based on the number of people obese and overweight in the UK and the predicted weight loss impact of the programme.