Shopping at Lidl and Aldi may save the pennies but piles on the pounds
21:00 GMT, 4 April 2012
Shopping at Lidl may provide fat discounts but buying your groceries at cost-cutting stores could also encourage you to pile of the pounds.
A French study found those who went to discount supermarkets for their food were heavier and fatter on average than the shoppers who frequented expensive city-centre stores.
Bargain hunting was associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) even after adjusting for social background and distance from the store. However, the link was stronger among shoppers with a poorer education.
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The study, published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, was conducted in Paris between 2007 and 2008.
A total of 7,131 people shopping in more than 1,000 different supermarkets were surveyed.
Researchers compared customers from a range of Parisian supermarkets, including the upmarket Monoprix chain, and the 'hard discount' stores Aldi and Lidl.
The team led by Dr Basile Chaix, from the INSERM research institute in Paris, added that people who shopped in organic stores were much more likely to have a lower BMI and slimmer waists.
Efforts to improve eating habits, such as promoting healthy foods, should target specific supermarkets, the scientists suggest.
The study also found that just 11.4 per cent of participants went food shopping mainly in their own neighbourhood.
This was significant because previous research on shopping habits tended to assume people bought food near where they lived.
The researchers added that the results could be due to the greater availability of healthy foods such as vegetables or fish in city centre shops compared to the 'low-cost energy-dense foods' on offer at the discount supermarkets.
Strategies targeting food-buying behaviour in specific supermarkets may be an 'efficient strategy' because supermarkets 'are the very place where dietary preferences are concretely materialised and translated into a definite set of purchased foods', they said.