Waitrose is training up shop assistants to become “health food police” who will patrol aisles and steer shoppers away from junk food.
The move will be rolled out at dozens of stores across the UK this year, and is designed to encourage shoppers to load their trolleys with healthy options including Waitrose’s new ‘Good Health’ range of food.
It comes as half of shoppers admitted that they didn’t feel on top of their health in a survey, with a third saying they didn’t have enough time to focus on their health.
Once trained up by qualified nutritionists, shop assistants will advise and direct customers who ask towards healthier choices on the shop floor free of charge.
For example a shopper deciding on a meal to cook for supper might be advised to buy quinoa instead of rice, Waitrose said.
They will also be trained to suggest recipes to shoppers, and advise them on how to read food labels and where they can find reliable sources of nutrition information.
Research shows that shoppers tend to reach for unhealthy options in supermarkets if they do their shopping while hungry.
For example participants in a Cornell University who were hungry purchased more high-calorie products, the researchers found. On average, hungry people purchased 5.7 high-calorie products, while the group that ate before shopping bought 3.9 high-calorie products.
Retailers including Tesco and Boots have banned junk food at tills after experts warned it was fueling obesity.
A Waitrose spokesman said: “Many shoppers have the best intentions to be healthier but busy lives get in the way. We know that small steps, top tips and nuggets of good advice can help them get started and importantly stay on track.
“Research shows that changes do not have to be radical to have a positive effect and can have a lasting impact on health.”