SHOPS should be banned from selling chocolate eggs more than three weeks before Easter, health campaigners say.
The Royal Society for Public Health claims stores are fuelling the obesity crisis by selling the treats as early as January.
Alamy The RSPH wants shops to be blocked from selling chocolate Easter eggs too early
They warn it is also irresponsible to place chocolate near the checkout because they tempt shoppers and kids to buy more.
Half of Brits (50 per cent) have already eaten at least one Easter-related chocolate three weeks before the religious celebration. And almost a quarter (23 per cent) has bought and scoffed at least one Easter egg this year, an RSPH poll of 2,000 people reveals.
An average chocolate egg contains 1,375 calories – almost three quarters of an adult’s recommended daily intake. One in four UK adults and one in five year six pupils are obese, increasing their risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer.
Six in ten adults polled by the RSPH (57 per cent) say their child has been tempted by Easter-themed treats displayed near checkouts. Some 77 per cent agree supermarkets sell them too early and 68 per cent say special occasions are used too much to promote unhealthy food.
Shirley Cramer, from the 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 – it isn’t uncommon to find Easter eggs on sale in the first week of January.
“Our research suggests that the public find this mildly irritating and it is just putting unnecessary temptation out there, particularly for children. 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.”
Duncan Stephenson, also from the RSPH, added: “Selling Easter eggs three or four months in advance is perhaps a little egg-cessive. We would think that a few weeks of having products on shelves is more than enough time to prepare and enjoy the run up to any special occasion.
“Given the challenge of childhood obesity we think retailers should be doing more to promote healthier choices and not be putting unnecessary temptation in front of shoppers.”
Louise Meincke, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “Advertising and selling Easter eggs weeks, and sometimes even months, in advance of the holiday is just another tactic used by industry to encourage people to make unhealthy choices.
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“This is unacceptable during the current global obesity crisis. We want the government to lead the way by implementing policies that make our daily environments healthier.”
The Department of Health is currently consulting on plans to ban shops from placing junk food near tills, entrances and aisle ends.
Chris Snowdon, from the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “Whether it’s Halloween treats, Christmas dinners or Easter eggs, the nanny statists fight their war on food all year round.”
From choccie bunnies to eggs of all sizes – check out Cadbury’s 2019 Easter Egg range