Shops are being urged to stop selling Easter eggs on sale so early to help tackle rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A survey carried out by the Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) showed that one in four people have already eaten at least one full-size egg and 50% have eaten an Easter themed chocolate treat.
In some supermarkets, the seasonal goods are available to buy straight after Christmas and 77% of those who were asked in the survey said this is far too early.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of 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.”
Health campaigners are calling for the early sale of Easter eggs to be banned, particularly as they account for three quarters of an adult’s daily calorie intake.
The government introduced a sugar tax last year to drive down sugary drink consumption, and cutting down on high-sugar foods such as Easter eggs is important to prevent weight gain and rises in blood glucose levels.
Louise Meincke, head of policy at 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. 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. This would help parents give their children the best start in life by reducing their risk of cancer and other health conditions associated with obesity.”
Visit our award-winning Low Carb Program for recipe ideas and tips on how to eat enjoyable food over Easter without consuming high amounts of sugar.