Deakin University

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Supermarkets and unhealthy food marketing: an international comparison of the content of supermarket catalogues/circulars

journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-01, 00:00 authored by Emma Charlton, L A Kähkönen, Gary SacksGary Sacks, Adrian CameronAdrian Cameron
BACKGROUND: Supermarket marketing activities have a major influence on consumer food purchases. This study aimed to assess and compare the contents of supermarket marketing circulars from a range of countries worldwide from an obesity prevention perspective. METHODS: The contents of supermarket circulars from major supermarket chains in 12 non-random countries were collected and analysed over an eight week period from July to September 2014 (n=89 circulars with 12,563 food products). Circulars were largely English language and from countries representing most continents. Food products in 25 sub-categories were categorised as discretionary or non-discretionary (core) food or drinks based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. The total number of products in each subcategory in the whole circular, and on front covers only, was calculated. RESULTS: Circulars from most countries advertised a high proportion of discretionary foods. The only exceptions were circulars from the Philippines (no discretionary foods) and India (11% discretionary food). Circulars from six countries advertised more discretionary foods than core foods. Front covers tended to include a much greater proportion of healthy products than the circulars overall. CONCLUSIONS: Supermarket circulars in most of the countries examined include a high percentage of discretionary foods, and therefore promote unhealthy eating behaviours that contribute to the global obesity epidemic. A clear opportunity exists for supermarket circulars to promote rather than undermine healthy eating behaviours of populations. Governments need to ensure that supermarket marketing is included as part of broader efforts to restrict unhealthy food marketing.



Preventive medicine




168 - 173




Amsterdam, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Elsevier