Over the last three years UK retailers have undertaken a number of initiatives in the battle against obesity, including product reformulation and reducing portion sizes, a leading industry body today (3 June) insisted.

In its three-year review of the situation, British Retailing: A Commitment to Health, the British Retail Consortium outlined how UK food retailers have responded to the obesity issue.

The report examines the strategies pursued by the likes of Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and the Co-Operative, spanning various issues including marketing, labelling and product reformulation.

According to BRC director Stephen Robertson, the report highlights “how to help consumers stay healthy without admonishing them or diminishing their choice”.

He added that the obesity challenge facing the UK is “serious and deep-rooted”, and requires more than targets, labelling rules or promotion bans.

A spokesperson for the BRC told just-food that the body had compiled the report to communicate the “achievements” retailers have made in tackling obesity over the last three years.

“There is something of a constant trickle of criticism from consumer groups… There are always calls for retailers to do more – not just from consumer groups but also politicians… The BRC is capable of coordinating information from all retailers to try and communicate what retailers have achieved in this regard,” the spokesperson said.

Speaking at the launch of the report in London, UK Minister for Public Health Dawn Primarolo said UK retailers’ work to promote healthy diets was “fantastic”.

“It is great to see big supermarkets promoting fruit and vegetables, and showing people that eating healthily can be affordable. The proportion of consumers seeking out more fruit and vegetables, food with lower salt and with lower fat has grown, and the report shows that BRC members have played an important role and will continue to lead the way in the future,” she said.