Find out more about our approach to public health
Our health and wellbeing outcome is influenced by a number of factors from the environment surrounding us to what we eat and how we live our lives. In the developed world there’s a growing imbalance between the number of calories we consume and how many that we use through exercise and therefore we have a growing overweight and obese population in adults and children. We’re not eating enough fibre or fruit and vegetables, having too much saturated fat and added sugar and not enough of some vitamins and minerals.
As a population we need to rebalance our diet to eat more healthy foods so that we can achieve the right nutrient balance. It’s not only obesity that’s a challenge but what comes with it in terms of increased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. We also have a population that is living for longer and we need to make sure that they live healthier for longer. At M&S we recognise we have a role to play as part of a multi-stakeholder approach to addressing the UK dietary imbalance.
Commitments and targets
We’re committed to leading the way in promoting healthy lifestyles and wellbeing, by developing innovative product ranges, offering the best information and encouraging our customers and colleagues to live healthier lives.
We have had a dedicated health strategy in place for over 10 years focused on supporting our customers to make healthier choices.
We make healthy eating easier through clear on-pack labelling and provision of accessible customer information. This is underpinned by a programme of reformulation to continually improve the nutritional profile of our foods by removing or reducing levels of unnecessary or unwanted ingredients such as additives, saturated fat and salt. We've also introduced initiatives to add nutrients that are in short supply into our foods to help boost customers’ intakes. This all works in combination with an innovative product development team which create recipes and ingredients that inspire customers to eat more healthily. We believe that healthy eating should be pleasurable and not a compromise.
We’ve achieved a number of industry firsts – for example, we were the first retailer to:
- Develop a calorie controlled range, ‘Count on us’, in 2000 to help customers interested in losing weight
- Introduce a simple signpost for healthy eating, the eat well sunflower logo, in January 2005
- Introduce a combination of Dietary Reference Intake percentages and colour-coded front of pack nutritional information across prepared food in January 2007, which has since become the recommended industry practice and will be legislated for in the future
- Remove all hydrogenated fats as ingredients from our food in 2006 and all artificial colours and flavourings from our entire food and soft drinks range in 2008
- Worked with the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health to launch a high protein range previously called 'Simply fuller for longer', (now called Balanced for You) in January 2010
- Sell Better For You Milk in 2011 which has 6% less saturated fat than conventional milk as a result of adapting the way that our farmers feed their cows
- Add vitamin D to our entire packaged bread range in 2015 after finding our customers were concerned they weren’t getting their recommended daily amount
- Boost the fibre content of our white bread loaves so that it all provides a source of fibre in January 2016
- We are committed to restricting the sale of energy drinks to under 16s in our stores
We are also involved in other initiatives to ensure that ongoing nutrition science research is relevant to industry and the public health initiative 'Collaboration for Healthy Lives with the Consumer Goods Forum' and addresses the health issues facing our customers.
In January 2021, we gave extra support to families by funding an additional £5 per week for each £15 lunch voucher redeemed via the government's free school meals scheme in England. Bringing the total value to £20 made sure that children received and extra daily meal and were able to eat both a healthy and nutritious breakfast and lunchtime meal. This announcement was supported by Marcus Rashford MBE.
As part of this, our internal nutrition team launched the M&S online lunch planner which included mealtime inspiration for 10 meals for two children, along with hints and tips on how to avoid food waste.