Wednesday 25th April 2012, 10:35 London
Healthy eating movement hits out
Children's Food Campaign names Asda, Morrisons and Iceland as worst offenders in undermining healthy eating among UK children
The Children's Food Campaign (CFC), a UK-based organisation that aims to improve young people's health and wellbeing through better food and food teaching, has criticised several leading grocery retailers for actions that it has said 'undermine healthy eating' among children.
In its report, 'Checkouts Checked Out', the group named Asda, Morrisons and frozen specialist Iceland as the 'worst offenders' for undermining parents' efforts to feed their children healthily by prominently displaying junk food on four out of every five checkouts in their stores.
Other leading retailers such as The Co-operative Group, Sainsbury's, Tesco and Waitrose did not escape the criticism, however, with CFC pointing out that families had to queue past displays of healthy snacks to reach the tills.
Checkouts Checked Out found that the majority of supermarket branches and high street stores 'routinely promote unhealthy snacks' at checkout tills and queuing areas, in many cases at children's eye level, and called for junk food to be removed from checkout areas completely.
"Impulse purchases at the checkout can add several hundred unplanned calories to a family shopping basket," explained Sophie Durham, CFC spokesperson and co-author of the report. "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."
The report also found that these practices are spreading to smaller format stores and even non-food retailers, including HMV, New Look, Superdrug and WHSmith.
"I am disappointed but not surprised that parents need to campaign again on this issue," said Annie Seeley, a nutritionist and co-ordinator of the Food Commission's Parents' Jury, which investigated snacks at the checkout in 2002-2005. "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."