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A consumer watchdog has said the big-name supermarkets have dramatically increased promotions of cheap, unhealthy food during the credit crunch.

Fatty and sugary foods now make up more than half (54%) of in-store supermarket promotions, the National Consumer Council said.

This is nearly double the number recorded in the last survey in 2006, despite Government health advice that such foods should make up just 7% of diets.

Morrisons was the worst offender for the fourth time in a row, with 63% of its promotions featuring sugary and fatty foods, the NCC said.

Just one in eight promotions featured fruit and vegetables, despite health advice recommending they make up a minimum 33% of a total diet.

The figures are published in the NCC's fourth Cut-price, what cost? report rating the UK's top eight supermarkets on efforts to help customers eat healthily.

Researchers rated supermarkets on the salt content of own-brand foods, front and back-of-pack nutrition labelling, price promotions, prevalence of sweets at the checkout and information and advice available to consumers.

Sainsbury's is ranked top for the second time in a row, followed by the Co-operative.

Lucy Yates, senior policy advocate at the NCC and the report's author, said: "The volume of in-house promotions for fatty and sugary foods the supermarkets are all offering is staggering. We expected to see evidence of big improvements since our last investigation, but we've been sadly disappointed."

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