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How Co-op promotes responsible marketing to improve health

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Emma Green is training to become a dietician. 

You'd be surprised how powerful marketing can be. Unfortunately, when it comes to our health, companies often don't have it in their best interest, overlooking it and focusing more on driving sales and making profit.

Credit: Co-op Food 

Where are we in tackling unhealthy advertising? 

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, recently revealed that Transport for London is to strip ALL junk food advertisements from trains, trams, buses, and boats around the city - likely a huge step forward into tackling the obesity epidemic in the UK.

But with this being implemented only in the capital itself, what's happening in the rest of the country? In poorer areas? On public transport in other cities? On billboards? And what about what we see on the internet?

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has placed guidelines on the advertising of junk food to children. High fat, high sugar products are currently banned in children’s media, including on social media and online spaces - however, when we log off, what happens around us? There are currently many misleading promotions that can often make it difficult for consumers to make healthy choices: BOGOF deals, multipacks. Brightly coloured packets of crisps and chocolate bars can be difficult to resist, especially for children.

And even if products are branded as the better choice, do we know if they're actually healthy or not? “Health” bars and drinks are often packed with more sugar and fat then we realise. It’s just all a bit confusing and scary, isn’t it?

What is Co-op doing to help? 

Credit: Co-op Food 

Co-op wants to make healthy choices easy for consumers, but to also put the power back into our hands. After all, a choice we make ourselves rather than one that is imposed on us is much more likely to have a long-term impact, especially when it comes to healthy choices.

Health and wellbeing are at the heart of Co-op’s aims, so the company has made a few changes, introduced new initiatives and produced seasonal campaigns to help customers take control and live healthier lives.

Co-op's Well and Good range

This year the Co-op has introduced its ‘Well and Good’ range, selling and marketing products with lower salt and sugar content, in order to aid customers' healthier lifestyles. Marking these products in-store and online, with distinctive packaging and clearly labelled signs, allows customers to trust and know what is a good choice for their health.

Beyond the traffic light system 

Credit: Co-op Food 

The nutrition traffic light label can inform and help customers to visually understand what the calorie, fat, sugar and salt content of the product is, without the need to understand all the numbers. The traffic light label isn’t distinctive to Co-op, but by using it on its products and educating customers about it online, the Co-op aims to educate its customers further on healthier eating.

In fact, Co-op is a pioneer in food labelling to promote health - it was the first company to add fat and calorie amounts to its own-branded products (in 1995), the first to label where its eggs came from (also in 1995, leading to a change in the law to make this mandatory), and the first to add calories to alcohol (in 2002). 

Find out more about the importance of food labelling in health here

Education online 

Credit: Co-op Food 

It’s not just in-store where the Co-op is making changes. Its online site has a library of easily located resources that help you to understand what you’re eating, but to still enjoy your food too.

The site seeks to educate about those dreaded ‘S’ words (sugar, salt), and that ‘F’ one too (fat), alongside recipes for all ages. These recipes are seasonal and fresh, but also cover a wide range of budgets and skill capabilities - perfect whether you’re an eager chef in the making or a poor student whose repertoire currently includes baked beans on toast and a packet of super noodles.

Check out our round-ups of easy vegan recipes, healthy food swaps, and gluten-free snacks for some inspiration. 

On top of this, there are also resources and incentives on getting active, packing in that five-a-day, and responsible drinking - essential for learning how to look after yourself whilst making the most of your university experience.

Partnership with Parkrun 

Co-op has also teamed up with Parkrun, the weekly 5k that gets people across the country out of bed, in their trainers and running around their local park every Saturday morning. 

Supporting fitness, health and local communities, Co-op can often be seen popping up at Parkruns with goodie boxes, inspiration, and ideas to keep runners motivated. 

Find out more about Co-op's relationship with Parkrun here and don't forget to read our tips on how to power your run with easy food swaps. 

Head to the Health & Wellbeing sections of Co-op's website to read more about what they’re doing and to put your health into your control.

Students get 10% off at Co-op with a Totum or NUS extra card. Find your local Co-op here.

For more inspiration from Co-op throughout the year follow @coopukfood.

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