Calorie-filled Easter eggs are being sold in shops far too early and that is tempting parents to buy unhealthy treats for their children, a public health body says.
It is not unusual to find Easter eggs on sale in the first week of January – but most people are irritated by the practice, the Royal Society of Public Health said.
It wants retailers to crack down on early sales of seasonal products high in fat, salt and sugar.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), said: “We recognise that special occasions such as Easter are a time for indulgence and treats.
“However, it is clear that many shops and supermarkets are pushing products way too early.
“If supermarkets are serious about tackling the obesity epidemic, we would urge retailers to change their marketing strategies in the interest of the public’s health.”
In a survey of 2,000 adults in the UK, two-thirds said holidays and special occasions were used too much to sell unhealthy food while a third said it made them eat less healthily.
More than half of parents said their child had been tempted by an Easter treat displayed near checkouts and half of those surveyed said they had already bought and eaten at least one chocolate Easter egg or cake this year.
A 256g Cadbury’s chocolate egg contains about 1,375 calories – that’s more than half the recommended daily calorie intake limit of 2000kcal for a woman, and 2,500kcal for a man.
With one in four adults and one in five 10 to 11-year-old children in the UK classified as obese, the RSPH says more should be done to reverse these trends.
It urges retailers to stop pushing unhealthy products at checkouts – a proposal contained in the government’s plan to halve childhood obesity in England by 2030.
Andrew Opie, from the British Retail Consortium, said: “The bulk of Easter egg purchases are made in the week before Easter as customers scramble to buy eggs for family and friends.
“However, many of us choose to buy and enjoy eggs even before Easter, and retailers cater to that demand as well.”