UK supermarket chain Tesco has dismissed suggestions from MPs that it could use data from its loyalty card scheme to target unhealthy eaters in a bid to tackle rising obesity levels.

Tesco's director of government affairs, David North, said that such a move would be inappropriate and could alienate customers, reported Brand Republic.

North was appearing before the Health Select Committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into the UK's obesity problem. The committee has been suggesting various ways in which supermarkets might help to tackle the problem. Other suggestions have included replacing sweets and chocolate at checkouts with fresh fruit and healthy snacks and including more fruit and vegetables in advertisements.

Last week, Wal-Mart's Asda told the committee that it planned to start placing fruit at a number of its checkouts in the New Year.

The committee suggested that data collected from loyalty cards, such as Tesco's Clubcard, could be used to promote healthier alternatives to those customers who purchase a lot of high-fat or sugary foods.

North rejected the suggestion, saying that some customers might think it patronising or draconian. An Asda representative agreed with North, saying that retailers do not have a moral duty to encourage their customers to eat more healthily, Brand Republic reported.