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To investigate the proportion of foods that are unhealthy to which children are exposed at the checkout of convenience supermarkets.
We performed a cross-sectional survey of foodstuffs displayed at the checkout. Products displayed at or below children's eye-level were designated as healthy, unhealthy or unclassifiable using the Food Standards Agency's scoring criteria.
Thirteen convenience supermarkets from the three leading UK supermarket chains were selected on the basis of proximity to the town hall in Sheffield, England.
Convenience supermarkets were defined as branches of supermarket chains that were identified as being other than superstores on their company's store locator website.
In almost all of the convenience supermarkets surveyed, the main healthy product on display was sugar-free chewing gum. On average, when chewing gum was not included as a foodstuff, 89% of the products on display at the checkouts of convenience supermarkets were unhealthy using the Food Standards Agency's criteria. One store was a notable outlier, providing only fruit and nuts at its checkout.
The overwhelming majority of products to which children are exposed at the convenience supermarket checkout are unhealthy. This is despite all the supermarket chains surveyed having signed up to the UK Government's ‘responsibility deal’.
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