UK supermarket giant Tesco will share anonymised sales information with partner charities in a bid to help develop insight on health policy and public health programmes.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK (CR UK), and Diabetes UK have joined forces with the food retailer to address the country’s biggest health challenges under a novel partnership branded ‘Little Helps for Healthier Living’, the idea being to help Tesco’s 300,000 employees and millions of shoppers remove barriers to healthier habits.

The initial focus will be to establish a workplace health programme designed to support Tesco colleagues “to be at their best at work and at home”, building on measures already taken by the retailer such as healthy deals and discounts, free health checks, and mental health support.

Over the next five years, the partnership will encourage and support “sustainable, measurable changes in behaviour” in both employees and customers, through a stream of targeted campaigns designed to cut the risk of heart and circulatory disease, cancer and Type II diabetes.

Initiatives will include aligning communication campaigns in store and online with national health campaigns, and training Tesco pharmacists to improve support for customers in the prevention these diseases.

According to the publication Third Sector, the charities will receive an undisclosed fee for their contributions as well as a share of monies raised from staff fundraising projects and donations from the supermarket.

The four partners said they would share findings from their work across the wider UK health community, “to help accelerate progress towards national and international public health goals” and “bring about a measurable improvement to the health of the nation”.

“Together with the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, and Diabetes UK, we want to help people take small steps on their own terms to develop healthier habits,” said Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco, commenting on the move. “It’s about unlocking the energy, expertise and reach of our different organisations to develop little helps that make healthy differences across the whole country.”

“Working together, we can create initiatives that inspire people to take steps to change their behaviour,” added BHF chief executive Simon Gillespie. “Measuring the impact of these initiatives could also pave the way for new and innovative strategies for empowering staff and communities to take control of their health in ways that can be adopted across the country.”