1 In 4 Brits Have Already Scoffed An Easter Egg This Year – Here's Why That's A Problem

Supermarkets selling Easter treats far too early, health officials warn.

Valentine’s Day had barely passed and the aisles were already stocked high with temptation – bags of mini eggs, bunny-shaped chocolates and, of course, full-sized Easter eggs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, public health officials think this is a problem.

With over three weeks to go until Easter (which falls on 21 April this year), half of the UK public have already bought and consumed at least one Easter-related chocolate, treat or cake, according to new research by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH).

Furthermore, almost a quarter (23%) have bought and consumed at least one full-sized Easter egg, the survey of 2,000 adults revealed. For a little perspective, the average Easter egg contains almost three quarters of an adult’s recommended daily calorie intake.

With obesity a growing issue in the UK – latest figures suggest one in four UK adults are obese, the highest rates in western Europe – the increasingly early arrival of Easter eggs on supermarket shelves has prompted concerns for public health.

Magdalena Juillard via Getty Images / HuffPost UK

A RSPH poll found over three-quarters (77%) of people agree that supermarkets start selling Easter eggs and other Easter related treats far too early.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of 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.”

Among year 6 pupils, over 20% are obese and as many as 4.2% are now ‘severely obese’ (the highest rate ever).

RSPH warned that more must be done to reverse these trends, and is urging retailers to encourage healthier choices and stop pushing unhealthy products.

“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,” said Cramer.

[Read More: Tom Watson Welcomes Ban on Cadbury’s Freddo Ads ‘Marketed To Kids’]

It seems supermarkets have a lot of work to do. Just this week, Cancer Research UK warned that shoppers whose supermarket trolleys are stacked with food and drink offered on special promotions have more than a 50% increased chance of being obese, which can increase the risk of 13 different types of cancer.

A study, which looked at the habits of more than 16,000 British households, found that people whose shopping baskets contained around 40-80% of goods on special offer had a greater chance of piling on the pounds.

The research also found that almost half of all chocolate, crisps, popcorn, and savoury snacks were bought on promotion.