Deakin University and Université Laval have published their latest assessment of Australian supermarkets. Deakin University is a well known public health activist organisation that is openly anti-industry/retail.

Many of the domains in the assessment report correlate with National Obesity Strategy (NOS) recommendations. Accordingly, the tool used to evaluate each supermarket (Business Impact Assessment – Obesity and population nutrition) covers reasonable policy areas, but like the NOS, some of the contents is based on old/controversial science (i.e., definitions of unhealthy foods; belief in ultra-processed food concept; advertising to children; etc…) and the weighting system is not explained in detail and it is not clear if/how the tool has been evaluated. Therefore, the validity of the scoring system and the derived scores is not known. Due to its business structure, IGA did not engage with Deakin Uni, so its rating (lowest) is subject to significant bias.

The results of the report will of course be used to lobby governments to limit sales/marketing of what the authors consider to be unhealthy foods/beverages through legislation. Unsurprisingly, there’s an over-arching push from public health advocates to exclude food industry/retailers from policy making. National Retail members would likely agree with some, but not all of the recommendations in the report, as not all are well supported by high quality scientific evidence.

Prepared by Dr Alan Barclay
Health and Nutrition Advisor, National Retail Association