Asda, Morrisons and Iceland named as ‘worst offenders’ for undermining children’s healthy eating

Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 11:21
Posted by Scott Buckler

The Children’s Food Campaign today launched a report naming Asda, Morrisons and Iceland as the “worst offenders” for undermining parents’ efforts to feed their children healthily, by displaying junk food on four out of five checkouts in their stores

The Co-op, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose were also criticised for making families have to queue past displays of unhealthy snacks to reach the tills .

The Checkouts Checked Out report found that most supermarket branches and high street stores routinely promote unhealthy snacks at their checkout tills and in their queuing areas, despite several having promised a decade ago to reduce this unhealthy marketing practice. The report found that in many cases, junk food was positioned at children’s eye level, prompting children to pester their parents for sweets, crisps and soft drinks. The authors of the report, who campaign for children’s health, have called for junk to be chucked off the checkouts once and for all.

Key findings in the Checkouts Checked Out report were:

 •‘No change at the till’ as most high-street supermarkets continue to promote and sell unhealthy snacks at the checkout, a decade after promises to reduce or remove them.
• Bad practices now spreading to smaller format stores and non-food retailers such as HMV, New Look, Superdrug and WHSmith, who all feature sweets and chocolates in the queuing area near the checkouts, and do not offer healthy alternatives.
 
Sophie Durham, Children’s Food Campaign spokesperson and co-author of the Checkouts Checked Out report, 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.”

Amanda Flint, mother of four and campaign supporter, said, “Shopping with my kids is hard enough as it is, so to be subjected to rows of sweets and chocolates at the checkout is maddening. I want it to be easier to choose healthy options for my family.”

Annie Seeley, a nutritionist and co-ordinator of the Food Commission’s Parents’ Jury, which investigated snacks at the checkout back in 2002 to 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 Children’s Food Campaign’s new ‘Chuck Junk Off the Checkout’ campaign supports parents across the country to get involved with lobbying 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, not just in broadcast and print advertising.

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