Creating healthier food options for children

Child obesity levels are on the rise. Currently, one in five children starting primary school in the UK is overweight or obese. The environments they grow up in have a huge role to play in their health.

ShareAction’s new Healthy Markets campaign, funded by Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity, will gather investment allies to tackle childhood obesity. The campaign will bring together investors to ask UK food and drinks companies to produce healthier, more affordable products; limit advertising of sugary products to children; and encourage clear and accurate food labelling.

Why this is important and what we’re doing about it

Being obese as a child greatly increases the risk of being obese as an adult and this has profound economic and social costs to society, including an estimated £6.1bn to the NHS and £27 billion in reduced productivity and economic growth costs per year. 

There is an increasing swell of political and public support for action in this space, with regulation already in place for sugary drinks and voluntary targets set for companies to reduce both sugar and calories across other product categories. Alongside changing customer preferences shifting towards healthier and low sugar products, there are clear financial, reputational, and operational risks for companies and investors that fail to respond.

ShareAction will harness the power of the investment system to redesign the food environments children are exposed to. We will target the major food and drink retailers and manufacturers that sell their products in the UK, benchmarking them on their performance, and engaging with them at AGMs and through letters signed by a coalition of supporting investors.

“We’re excited to explore with  ShareAction  how encouraging responsible investment can help improve the availability of healthier options for everyone.”

Kieron Boyle

Chief Executive, Guy's and St. Thomas' Charity

“We’re proud to be supporting investors to make a positive impact on the lives of young people… We believe it makes particular sense for pension funds to focus on public health given its relevance to the lives and well-being of millions of UK pension savers.”

Catherine Howarth

Chief Executive, ShareAction

Latest news


A Healthy Investment: The Importance of Prioritising Health in the

This briefing examines the role food and drink manufacturers have to play in the fight against obesity and why it is vital these companies – and those who invest in them – prioritise health.


Healthy Competition: Why the safest bet for investors is healthier retail markets and how to get there

This briefing sets out analysis of UK food retailers produced by the Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI) in their UK Supermarket Spotlight report. Using a new methodology developed for the Healthy Markets’ campaign by ATNI, this report sets out the relative performance of major retailers in the UK in disclosing information about their policies and practices in respect of healthy eating.


Hitting the Sweet Spot: the Investment Case for Solutions to Childhood Obesity

This briefing introduces the topic of childhood obesity and sets out the opportunities and risks it poses to investment portfolios.


Get in touch

Ellie Chapman

Ellie Chapman

Programme Manager - Food and Health