Supermarkets Expose Kids to High Calorie Junk Food at Checkout, Study

First Posted: Jan 25, 2014 03:41 AM EST

Supermarkets expose kids to unhealthy high calorie junk food at the ckeckout, according to a new finding.

Researchers at the University School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) discovered that children tend to demand products kept on display at the checkout in supermarkets. Going by the Food Standards Agency, over 90 percent of these products are extremely unhealthy as they contain high levels of fat, sugar and salt.

The researchers gathered data from inner-city convenience stores from three leading supermarket chains, namely Tesco, Sainsbury's and Asda.

The study  data was collected  in  2012, a year after the supermarket industry signed a 'responsibility deal' promising to encourage people to follow a healthier diet.

Dr Jason Horsley, lecturer at ScHARR said, "The checkout is an area which all shoppers must pass through, so displays of highly desirable calorie-dense foodstuffs are an unavoidable exposure. Children are a significant market for retailers of processed foodstuffs and budgets dedicated to advertising to children have grown exponentially in the last three decades. Youngsters are often naïve to sophisticated marketing techniques and they influence parents' purchases through pester power."

The researchers said the most unhealthy product kept on display was the sugar-free chewing gum. The kids who force their parents to purchase products kept on display range from three-five years old.

The obesity rates in the United States continue to rise, so much so that it is no longer considered a disorder but comes in the category of a disease. According to the World Health Organisation, the heavy marketing of processed food to children is a probable risk factor for the growing obesity rate in children.

The research was published in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition.

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