The campaign is centred around the idea that for many Britons, eating chocolate is a guilty secret they try to hide from others, with a third of adults (33%) saying they eat chocolate in secret on their way home from work or 13% waiting until their partner leaves the room, according to the charity’s own survey.
The campaign’s slogans include ‘Give chocolate the finger!’ and ‘I’m on a dechox, do not tempt.’
The BHF says that the average Brit eats more than 150 chocolate bars a year.
“A bit of chocolate is fine in moderation but it should be a treat. If you’ve got into the habit of eating a lot of chocolate then, giving it up for a month is a great way to get into healthier habits,” said Tracy Parker, BHF heart health dietitian.
The industry said the campaign unfairly targets chocolate, a product which does have a place in a balanced diet.
“We are concerned by such campaigns which single out particular product categories because they do not convey the right message to consumers. People should learn how to consider and manage their diet as a whole and should be reminded that they need to adopt a more active lifestyle,” Laurence Vicca, communications manager for Caobisco, told FoodNavigator.
Vicca spoke out against this idea of chocolate as a ‘guilty secret.’
“If people hide from others and feel guilty, it’s because they know they eat in excess and out of a normal consumption pattern and not because it is chocolate,” she said.
Caobisco, the Association of Chocolate, Biscuits and Confectionery, said it is committed to encouraging healthy diets and lifestyles, claiming that by offering a variety of portion sizes and providing nutritional information for each product, consumers can make informed decisions about their own eating habits.
Vicca added that the industry plays an active role in encouraging healthy lifestyles, particularly by participating in EU platforms or action on diet, physical activity and health through FoodDrinkEurope.
Treading a fine line
Confectionery companies have drawn criticism in recent years over the role they play in encouraging healthy eating, notably regarding sponsorship of health campaigns or sports events.
Health campaigners have questioned the 'health halo' link these campaigns can garner among consumers, perhaps without justification. Kraft-owned Cadbury’s was criticised as an official sponsor of the London Olympics, for example.
Tam Fry of the medical charity the National Obesity Forum told FoodNavigator at the time: “[I am] disappointed that the London games have gone to Cadbury, because sport and chocolate don’t mix. I am most concerned at the message this gives to the young and impressionable.”