Britain’s Top Doctor Wants You to Stop Ordering Food Online

Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for Britain, has urged people to walk to the supermarket, rather than ordering groceries online.

by Phoebe Hurst
08 August 2016, 11:13am

Photo via Flickr user Dan4th Nicholas

Here's a cheering thought for next time you find yourself carting five bulging Tesco bags and an unwieldy multi pack of toilet roll home on the bus; cursing yourself for being neither organised nor rich enough to have an Ocado account: the weekly rigmarole of going to the supermarket is good for your health.

At least that's according to Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for Britain. In comments reported yesterday by The Sunday Telegraph, the senior doctor said that online grocery shopping was damaging public health. She urged people to walk to the supermarket and carry shopping home, rather than having supplies delivered to the house.

Davies told the newspaper: "At home I do little things that I know will make a difference, like walking to a nearby shop and carrying bags home, or even getting off the bus a stop early."

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NHS guidelines recommend adults take at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, every week, as well as strength exercises that work all major muscles—like lugging a couple of six-packs up the stairs to your flat, for example.

Davies also said: "Everyone can become more active by making little changes to the things we do every day. If you can go for a run around the local park—great. But if you are pushed for time, something is always better than nothing."

Her comments come after a paper published late last month in the Lancet medical journal found that the risk of death increased for desk-based workers who sat for eight hours a day without exercising.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph on Davies' comments, Steven Ward of not-for-profit health body UKactive also emphasised the dangers of sedentary lifestyle. He said: "Modern living has made us more inactive than ever before. Where once we would walk around the office talking to colleagues and carry home our groceries, today we fire emails and have Tesco deliver food to our door."

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Online grocery shopping has become increasingly popular in recent years, with market research company Mintel finding that orders have doubled since 2011. Deliveries of takeout food have also risen—up by 2.2 percent to £18.4 billion in Western Europe, according to Euromonitor—thanks to startups like Deliveroo and Just Eat.

As it becomes easier than ever before to have food delivered to our homes, the challenge may be knowing when to leave.