Remove unhealthy food from checkouts, say scientists

An experiment which strategically replaced crisps and chocolate in shops has led to plummeting sales of unhealthy snacks.

The trial, which took place in Iceland supermarkets, removed fatty foods from checkouts and the ends of aisles, and placed fruit and vegetables at store entrances.

University of Southampton found the shops sold around 10,000 extra fruit and vegetables compared to 1500 fewer sugary snacks per week.

Public health expert Janis Baird said it vindicated the government’s obesity strategy, which bans “prominent placement of unhealthy foods”.

READ MORE: 60% of Nestlé products marked ‘unhealthy’, leak reveals

However, she added that ministers should go further by installing the “produce section near supermarket entrances”, which is not part of the proposals.

“We know that childhood obesity is a growing issue and the retail industry has its part to play in tackling this,” Iceland format development head Matt Downes said.

“We hope that the outcomes of the study provide insights for the wider retail industry and policymakers about the impact of store merchandising on purchasing decisions.”

Government restrictions on displaying fatty foods are due to begin in October 2022, having been pushed back by six months after a backlash from retailers.

In July, Association of Convenience Stores head James Lowman accused ministers of throwing a “significant burden” on smaller shops which “cannot achieve significant public health gains”.

“There’s a growing sense that the government are throwing every idea and policy intervention at the problem without a clear idea of what will be effective,” he claimed.

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