Tesco are to remove sweet stands at checkouts in a bid to overcome the childhood obesity epidemic. This comes after demands placed on the supermarket by health campaigners and parents.
Confectionary was removed from the checkouts of the group’s larger stores about 20 years ago. However, this process is now being extending to its smaller stores as well.
The move by Tesco will place pressure on other retailers to follow suit as health campaigners claim that sugar has become the ‘new tobacco’ due to the damage over-consumption can cause to health.
Lidl announced the same procedure during January, but Tesco’s decision is significant because it is known to be the UK’s largest retailer.
The retailer stated that their own research has indicated that around 65% of customers stated that the removal of confectionary from the checkout points would aid them in making healthier choices for them and their children.
Philip Clarke, Tesco’s chief executive, said that it is very easy to be tempted by the sugary snacks that are available at the checkout. The group wants to help their customers lead healthier lives. He said that they have already removed huge amounts of calories from their soft drinks, ready meals and sandwiches by amending the recipes, and reducing the fat, salt and sugar content.
Tesco’s decision follows the collapse of talks between the Government and retailers earlier this year which was set to introduce a voluntary blanket ban on junk food displays at checkouts.
The University of Sheffield undertook a study which resulted in findings that nine out of ten items at checkouts can be considered to be very unhealthy. They found that chocolate treats were the ones on offer, which were stacked on shelves at a meter and under. This is at the exact eye height of children between the ages of three and five. This promotes the pester power that children have to obtain what they want.
The Prime Minister has previously attacked stores for making use of this tactic, particularly WH Smith that places boxes of chocolate oranges at their checkouts.
The move by Tesco is a huge victory for the ‘Junk Free Checkouts’ campaign. It was launched last year after research found that eight out of 10 parents were unhappy that stores continued to boost pester power and obesity by placing sweets at their tills.
The health charity, Sustain, stated their hope for other supermarkets to follow Tesco as that will allow for the improvement of children’s health.
Mumsnet’s Katie O’Donovan said that going to a supermarket with a small child can be quite an arduous task and finally reaching the checkout worsens it when there are sweets designed to attract the attention of a child. She said that it is a positive factor to see a supermarket heeding their customers’ views and trying to make their lives easier.
Image Credit: Roger