Results of a survey of 6,200 check-outs in more than 600 stores were announced by the Chuck Sweets off the Checkout campaign, an alliance of health professionals founded three years ago. Next Thursday it launches a national day of action to combat children's "pester power" and persuade stores to go completely sweet-free.
The survey places Sainsbury and Waitrose top, with 100 per cent of check-outs sweet-free. Only those two and Tesco had such a check-out policy: but some Tesco counters had sweets.
Of the other big stores, Safeway has announced it will remove sweets from check-outs because of the "hassle" the practice causes parents with young children. Like Somerfield, it is also putting fruit at some check-outs. However, only 44 per cent of its check-outs were found to be sweet-free. Presto, owned by Safeway, has no policy and only 19 per cent of its check-outs do not sell confectionery.
Marks & Spencer also comes near the table's bottom, with a policy of only two sweet-free check-outs a store and 30 per cent of counters not selling confectionery. Other low-rated stores include Somerfield (30 per cent), the Somerfield-owned Food Giant (28 per cent) and Lo-Cost (26 per cent).
The campaign, backed by organisations including the British Dental and Medical associations and granted £20,000 from the Department of Health's oral health promotion fund, argues dental disease is the most widespread UK disease and "pester power" is a key factor.
A survey commissioned by the campaign from Gallup found overwhelming support from parents. Eighty-seven per cent of mothers and 74 per cent of fathers are against check-out sweets. More than 60 per cent of parents feel under pressure from children to buy: nearly half give in.
Iona Smeaton, campaign co-ordinator, said check-out queuing was "a stressful event with or without children under your feet. It is not a time when you are most likely to assert your own free choice ... This is exactly why sweets are placed there - for the impulse buy." About a third of the sweets adults buy for children are not planned.
The action day will include awards for good practice.Reuse content