Junk Free Checkouts Campaign

Children'sFood Campaign logo

The Obesity Specialist Group has joined forces with Sustain and their Children’s Food Campaign, to help promote their Junk Free Checkouts Campaign.

In 2003, the Food Commission launched a campaign, run by the Parents Jury, called “Chuck Snacks off the Checkout!”, calling for an end to the promotion of unhealthy food and drink products at supermarket checkouts. That campaign saw 3,500 checkouts in 300 stores surveyed and, in response, some companies reduced their promotions of junk food at their checkouts or added healthy options.

However, following complaints from parents that the tactic seemed to be increasingly used by other high street retailers, Children’s Food Campaign were prompted to revisit this issue.

They carried out a survey in 48 branches of 14 national supermarkets and high street chains. They examined the number of checkouts where food and drink was on display in each branch and assessed whether the food being promoted was healthy or not. Their survey found that food was regularly displayed at the checkouts and in the queuing areas in these stores, and the vast majority of food promoted was unhealthy, with few healthy options on offer. In many cases, the food was positioned to attract the attention of children – and was often within their easy reach.

The history of campaigning on this issue suggests that retailers are unable or unwilling to stop voluntarily promoting junk food in their stores in this way. The Children’s Food Campaign is therefore calling for robust Government action to help parents and bring an end to this type of marketing of junk food to children.

Find out more about the Chuck Junk Off the Checkouts campaign at:

http://www.childrensfood.org.uk/

http://www.junkfreecheckouts.org

The Children’s Food Campaign is coordinated by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming, and is funded by the British Heart Foundation.

Why is the Obesity Specialist Group collaborating with the Children's Food Campaign?

The 2 organisations are both passionate about helping parents to choose healthy choices for their children and believe that opportunistic selling of high calorie snacks at checkouts sabotages the efforts being made by parents. The children's food campaign have experience of running campaigns, whereas the Obesity group as expert dietitians working within the field of obesity have professional experience and credibility, we also have a network of enthusiasts across the country who can take the campaign to a local level. We are fortunate to also have the support of the BDA's public health nutrition network to add public health expertise and broaden the spread of influence.

Aims

  1. Increase number of retailers offering junk free checkouts.
  2. Increase profile of BDA Obesity Specialist Group.

Objectives

  1. To support parents in their wish to foster healthy eating habits for their children.
  2. To raise public and professional awareness that the display of confectionery at or near checkouts adversely influences consumer choice.
  3. To raise awareness that junk at or near checkouts are a particular aggressive marketing technique which exploits children's vulnerability and undermines their health.
  4. To encourage community involvement in the aim of the campaign in an active way.
  5. To encourage retailers to respond to the clearly expressed public demand for junk-free checkouts as part of healthy food choices which should be available in food stores, and that these should be given priority.  To avoid increasing visibility of junk foods in other store locations. 
  6. To publicise positive changes that stores have made, or highlight those that are resistant to change, in the media.
  7. To monitor and publicise store practice and adherence to declared company policy.
  8. To raise awareness of the Obesity Specialist Group and the BDA as an independent, expert voice.

Intended Outcomes

  1. Incorporation of marketing at checkouts included in the Responsibility Deal.
  2. Increased media coverage.
  3. Increase number of junk free checkouts by a further 50%.
  4. Increase numbers of outlets signing up to support junk free checkouts by 50%.