A new campaign calling for supermarkets to remove unhealthy snacks from checkout and queuing areas has been launched, indicating that food retailers may want to reassess the layout of their store.
The ‘Junk Free Checkouts’ campaign is urging the government to force supermarkets to stop putting junk food near the cash tills if they fail to do so on their own.
This follows a recent survey from the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA’s) Dietetitians in Obesity Management (DOM UK) which found that almost eight out of ten consumers are unhappy with the sale of sugary or high calorie food around the checkouts.
Shoppers also believed that Asda and Morrisons were the worst offenders when it came to touting junk food at the tills.
Almost all the parents who responded to the survey admitted their children had asked them to buy junk food at the supermarket checkouts. Furthermore, many mums and dads found it difficult to refuse.
While two-thirds said they felt strongly enough about the issue to warrant complaining to the store, hardly any of those surveyed had actually done so.
The Junk Free Checkouts campaign is being run by DOM UK along with Slimming World and with the support of Birmingham City Council.
Linda Hindle, an obesity specialist at the BDA, commented: “Unplanned calories from foods high in fat and sugar purchased at checkouts contribute towards poor diet and poor health, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes, which may lead to premature death.”
The expert added that eating sugary or acidic food and drink also directly contributes to tooth damage, which is completely preventable. She underlined that one-third of 12-year-olds already have a filled in or extracted tooth.
According to Ms Hindle, this is “a sure sign that the rot of poor diets is already setting in”.
She noted that while food retailers may find that placing junk food by the checkout may be lucrative, it could be harming the health of the nation, as it “nudges purchasing behaviour in the wrong direction”.