It’s Monday, you’re buying a coffee on your way into work and the barista asks ‘do you want any cakes or pastries with that?’. You’re torn two ways; you were going to cut down on treats this week – you even remembered to ask for skimmed milk! – but that triple chocolate muffin might just be too tempting to resist. You give in and tell yourself the diet will start next Monday instead … until you get back to the coffee shop, that is.
Worryingly, this unavoidable upselling could be fuelling the UK’s growing obesity problem.
The Royal Society of Public Health recently teamed up with Slimming World to explore the impact of upselling on the nation’s health and found that coffee shops, convenience stores, fast-food outlets and restaurants are constantly tempting Brits to add unhealthy treats to their orders.
Some 35 per cent of survey respondents said they’d added chips to a meal even though they hadn’t really wanted them before being asked about them, potentially more than doubling their order’s calories.
Meanwhile, 34 per cent upgraded their coffee to a large after being tempted by a barista, even though this can hugely increase the amount of sugar, cream and calories in a drink – a temptation you can do without if you’re trying to watch what you eat.
Although you might not think that an extra squirt of cream here or a few more chips there would be too much of a problem for your health, if you say ‘yes’ to every upgrade you’re offered you could find yourself consuming more than 17,000 additional calories every year.
These extra calories could see you gain five pounds in just 12 months, so unless you break the habit of always accepting upsells, you could end up doing some serious damage to your health over the long term.
Sharon Hodgson, the shadow public health minister, warned that all of this upselling is “contributing significantly to the burgeoning obesity crisis we see today”. She suggested that “consumers are empowered to make healthier choices at the checkout” instead.
Some supermarkets have already committed to this, removing sweets and chocolate from their checkouts in favour of healthier snacks like fruit and nuts.
However, food service workers are often told by their bosses to upsell to all customers, but you don’t have to say ‘yes’.
Until more places follow this lead, a polite ‘no thanks’ at the till is all that’s needed to avoid those extra calories when you’re out and about, and make sure you’ve got healthy snacks that you’ve prepared yourself on hand for those moments when temptation does strike.
On average, we’re asked if we’d like to upgrade our order 106 times a year, so you could find yourself saying ‘no’ a lot, but it’ll be worth it for both your health and your bank balance.