Sweets at supermarket tills are ‘fuelling obesity crisis’

Parents vent frustration at checkout aisles full of junk food in survey to kickstart new campaign

The Government will be urged to revisit proposals to ban unhealthy food from supermarket checkouts after a survey found that more than 90 per cent of shoppers believe the practice contributes to obesity.

A campaign called Junk Free Checkouts is being launched today and aims to force supermarkets to stop selling sweets near the tills, which exploits the “pester power” of children who nag their parents to buy the snacks.

The initiative, announced by the British Dietetic Association and the Children’s Food Campaign, comes in the wake of a nationwide survey in which 78 per cent of respondents said they found junk food at checkouts “annoying”. It also found that 83 per cent have been pestered by their children to buy junk food at the checkouts and 75 per cent have given in to their children and bought something because they were pestered.

Nearly 2,000 people took part in the Chuck the Junk Survey, of which the majority were women and two-thirds had children.

Health campaigners have long called for supermarkets to stop selling unhealthy snacks near the till, a practice they say is often targeted at children with promotional deals.

Speaking on behalf of the British Dietetic Association, obesity specialist Linda Hindle said: “Retailers are unwilling to stop pushing unhealthy food at the checkout and queuing areas. It may be lucrative for them but, as our survey found, it is deeply unpopular with customers and nudges purchasing behaviour in the wrong direction.

“If retailers can’t act on their own, then we hope to see robust action from the Government to tackle this problem.”

The Government appeared to perform a U-turn on the issue in July, when Anna Soubry, the minister responsible for public health, ruled out a clampdown on so-called sweet and chocolate “guilt” lanes in shops and supermarkets, just days after vowing to abolish them.

Under its “responsibility deal” launched in 2011, the Government has received pledges from all leading supermarkets and food manufacturers to lower the fat and salt content of food products and adopt clearer labelling.

A Department of Health spokesman said other moves being considered by the Government included urging stores to spend more on marketing low-calorie products and ending the practice of herding shoppers through aisles of unhealthy snacks.

Campaigners have attacked the code of conduct for not doing enough to tackle the issue. Asda, Morrisons and Tesco were found to be the worst offenders that stocked the most junk food at tills.

Supermarkets are now being criticised for reneging on promises to change the way they sold confectionery a decade after a 2003 investigation by the independent watchdog the Food Commission.

Experts say there is a weight of scientific research to show that the practice of stocking checkout aisles with sweets is a cynical ploy by supermarkets to tempt shoppers into buying sweets and other fatty and salty foods at the end of a tiring few hours’ shopping.

Professor of marketing at EM-Lyon Business School, Agnes Nairn, told The Independent that shoppers’ buying patterns were likely to alter by the time they reached the checkout counter. “Consumers are more likely to go for something unhealthy when they are tired because they aren’t able to make the rational decision they would make otherwise,” she said.

“Although they all know that a chocolate egg is not as good for them as fruit salad, if you have to do that in a hurry, they make the wrong choice.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most