According to the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC), Morrisons, Asda and Iceland have be named as the ‘worst offenders’ for ‘undermining parents’ hard work to feed their children healthily.
The Checkouts Checked Out report revealed that the supermarkets that were included in the survey did not have any healthy food options promoted at the checkouts, but Morrisons, Asda and Iceland were top of the list for having unhealthy food or drink at over 80% of their checkouts. Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose were also criticised by the CFC for making customers queue past displays of unhealthy snacks like chocolates, to get to the till.
Registered dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, Sasha Watkins, said, “We all know how hard it is to steer our loved ones in a healthy direction without having to queue past brightly coloured snacks targeted at children. Studies have found that having food within easy reach is more likely to tempt us and parents also have to contend with the added factor of ‘pester power”.
She added that parents are already struggling to keep their children’s calories under control and this is yet another hurdle for families to overcome.
Watkins told the Huffpost Lifestyle that, “Sweets and chocolates are just ‘empty calories’ as they contain high levels of sugar and fat but no other good nutrients like vitamins, minerals or fibre.”
She said that a large population of the UK get their energy intake from added sugar, of which sweets and confectionary is a key source. She said, “This is exactly the type of calorie intake supermarkets should not be promoting if we want to win the battle against the bulge.”
The report discovered that most high street stores and supermarket branches actively sell and promote unhealthy snacks at their queuing areas and tills, even though many said they would reduce doing so. Many sweets, chocolates and crisps were positioned at children’s eye level.
The CFC said it wasn’t just supermarkets displaying sweets and chocolates in queuing areas, but non-food retailers including New Look, WHSmith, HMV and Superdrug.
Sainsbury’s was the only supermarket that confirmed a rule of not selling “impulse confectionary” at their main checkouts, but did say they display “gifting confectionery or seasonal lines”.
Siobhan Feegard, founder of Netmums, said “Parents daren’t take their eyes off their kids for a minute in case they get into trouble and now it seems we need to keep a constant eye on retailers too.
“In the last 10 years we have made so much headway in the battle against junk food with clearer on-pack labelling, but when it comes to the simple issues of junk food on display by the checkout we are back to where we started.
“Stores must stop working against mums and dads and work with us.”
There have been many articles in the press recently about the rising problems of obesity, so everyone in the industry needs to work together including supermarkets, restaurants, UK restaurant insurance providers, manufacturers and other suppliers, to help tackle the problem.