Leading supermarkets 'undermine parents' efforts to feed their children healthily by displaying sweets at checkouts'
06:53 GMT, 25 April 2012
Three leading supermarkets have been named as the 'worst offenders' for undermining parents' efforts to feed their children healthily.
The Children's Food Campaign (CFC) said Asda, Morrisons and Iceland displayed unhealthy food or drink at more than 80 per cent of their checkouts.
It also criticised the Co-operative, Sainsbury's Tesco and Waitrose for making families queue past displays of unhealthy snacks to reach the tills.
Not one 'traditional format' supermarket in the survey had any healthy food options promoted at its checkouts, the report said.
Bad influence: A report has criticised leading supermarkets for placing unhealthy products at its checkouts, claiming it undermines parents' efforts to get their children to eat well
The Checkouts Checked Out report found that most supermarket branches and high street stores routinely promote unhealthy snacks at their tills and in their queuing areas, despite several promising to reduce the practice.
The survey of stores across London found that, in many cases, junk food such as sweets and crisps was positioned at children's eye level.
The trend had also spread to smaller stores and non-food retailers including HMV, New Look, Superdrug and WHSmith, which all displayed sweets and chocolates in the queuing area near the checkouts, the CFC said.
A questionnaire to each of the retailers found that just one, Sainsbury's, confirmed a policy of not selling 'impulse confectionery' at their main checkouts, but added that they did display 'gifting confectionery or seasonal lines'.
The campaign did commend the Waitrose store in Oxford Circus for its prominent display of fresh fruit in the queuing area before the tills, and called for this to be the norm across all stores.
CFC spokeswoman and co-author of the report Sophie Durham said: 'Impulse purchases at the checkout can add several hundred unplanned calories to a family shopping basket.
'Supermarkets claim to be responsible retailers, yet they continue to put their profits ahead of families' health. They should stop prompting pester power and help parents by removing promotions of sugary, fatty, salty and calorie-laden snacks and drinks near the checkouts, especially those placed within easy reach of children.
'It's time to get the junk off the checkouts once and for all.'
Annie Seeley, a nutritionist and co-ordinator of the Food Commission's Parents' Jury, which investigated snacks at the checkout between 2002 and 2005, said: 'I am disappointed but not surprised that parents need to campaign again on this issue.
'Supermarkets seem to have reneged on their promises made after the Food Commission's investigation a decade ago and returned to the same bad old marketing habits of selling snacks high in sugar, salt and fat at their checkouts.'
The CFC has launched a campaign supporting parents to lobby supermarkets to stop promoting unhealthy food to children.
It is also lobbying the Advertising Standards Authority to regulate all promotion of unhealthy food to children alongside broadcast and print advertising.