Grocers off the hook over obesity

Supermarkets are not responsible for the obesity epidemic sweeping the UK, because consumers blame themselves for eating all the pies.

A survey for Retail Week by ICM showed an overwhelming majority of shoppers thought consumers were most responsible for the fat crisis. Some 72 per cent believed consumers should shoulder 'a lot' of responsibility for the nation's bulging waistline, while only 34 per cent blamed retailers.

The number of obese people in the UK has grown 400 per cent in the past 25 years, according to a report by the Health Select Committee.

A Tesco spokeswoman said: 'We understand obesity is a serious and growing problem and we have an important part to play. However, this is a complex issue and not one that can be solved by one retailer - we want to be involved alongside the Government, manufacturers, retailers and caterers and, most importantly, consumers.'

Next year, Tesco will introduce a traffic light labelling system to highlight products' fat, salt and sugar content.

An Asda spokeswoman said: 'Our role is to provide choice and information for customers in order for them to make informed decisions on the products they may want to buy. We also have a food pledge where we are aiming to improve our customers' diets by reformulating every own-label food product at Asda.'

- Leader: page 11; ICM poll: page 12.