Healthy Eating – Comparing Supermarkets

Eating a healthy diet in today’s world is a great achievement. Living in an over-consuming society where one has so many food choices, takes a lot of inner strength to maintain a healthy balanced diet. Supermarkets offer such a great variety of food items on their shelves, in tempting, colourful and attractive packaging that people tend to forget or do not understand their nutritional values. As a public health nutritionist it will be our role to educate consumers. However, in reality how easy is it to choose a varied, balanced, ‘healthy’ diet?

Visits to Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s were carried out and these are our findings. Location of stores/Accessibility Tesco’s Tesco’s metro was located quite close to the train station in the city centre; the free city bus also stops right near it. In comparison to Sainsbury’s Local the aisles were wider for disabled. There is no car park around the area so you would have to rely on public transport or taxis which could be a problem for the elderly and disabled.

Sainsbury’s In comparison Sainsbury’s have 12 stores in the Leeds district approximately 1 to 7 miles from the city centre. There are 2 types of store, Sainsbury’s Local and Sainsbury’s Superstore. The larger superstores are often out of town; however they have large car parks offering free parking. The local stores are in the community and are therefore accessible to the local communities.

Sainsbury’s offer online shopping, with delivery direct to your home. A free bus service is provided by out of town shopping centres where Sainsbury’s stores are located. Sainsbury’s also support rural communities through the Sainsbury’s Assisting Village Enterprises (SAVE) scheme, which helps support small independent shops and post offices providing essential services in rural areas by enabling these shops to sell non-perishable products from the Sainsbury’s store.

‘We want all our customers to be able to shop at Sainsbury’s easily – including disabled people, the elderly and people with young children. We make specific provisions at stores for people with special needs but our home shopping service is also available for people who do not want or are unable to shop in our stores. When we visited Sainsbury’s local we found that things were different from the big supermarkets and the information on the website wasn’t all correct.

The store is accessible if you live within the city or on one of the bus routes otherwise you are very dependent on family members, public transport and taxis to do your shopping. This can have an impact on people’s finances, as private taxi’s can be expensive. For the elderly and disable; public transport can be a problem as not all buses or taxis are able to accommodate their needs. When you arrive at the supermarket it can be difficult for the elderly or disabled to manage the aisle, as they are not very wide. The shelves are extremely high and again if you had a disability or if you were in a wheelchair you would be unable to reach the top shelves.}

Food Availability

Sainsbury local supermarket offer a range of products such as Meat, wine, fresh fruits, sandwiches, tin food , as well as confectionary items. However they didn’t seem to sell much frozen foods. Sainsbury’s also sell ‘World Foods’ from countries, which include Indian, Chinese, Italian, American and Thai, Greek, British and this shows how globalisation has had a large impact on the food products the supermarket has started to supply as a result of growing customer demands.

Sainsbury’s also had vegetarian food. However they didn’t have any kosher or halal food for people with religion background. Although Tesco’s metro do not offer as much products specific to ethnic communities, but the main tesco supermarket does offer many ethnic food to the minor community. There was a good range of food in the shop even though it was such a small store. They also had a whole aisle just full of world foods which is good considering it is such a small store. We arrived at these figures by allowing a mark out of 10 for each of the categories detailed above and then divided this figure by the total score available. Although Sainsbury’s were much better from an accessibility and healthy eating point of view, their low scoring for selling products expensive brought their score down below that given to Tesco.

Based on our findings, if the question posed were ‘How easily can a varied, balanced, ‘healthy’ diet be accessed?’ then the answer would be ‘very easily’. However, if the question was ‘How easy is it to choose a varied, balanced, ‘healthy’ diet?’ then this moves the responsibility of selecting healthier options to the consumer. Educating the consumer is the key and it appears that Sainsbury’s have taken this on board. With Tesco, although healthy products are available, we felt that they needed to improve their methods of educating the consumer, to ensure that the consumer understands how a ‘healthy diet’ can be achieved.

If we could do our presentation again we would make sure we had more time, as we only had a week which was quite hard, although we managed to still find out everything we needed, we could have gone into more detail if we had had more time to research abut both shops. If the whole group had gone to tesco’s together as well the whole group would have had more of an understanding about it.

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