How often are you tempted to pop a sugary treat in your basket while you queue to pay for shopping? Supermarkets have been criticised for pushing unhealthy snacks at the tills – but can we really blame them?
Today, the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC) released a report that named Asda, Morrisons and Iceland as the worst offending supermarkets for displaying sweets and chocolates at their tills, but they are by no means the only supermarkets.
The CFC feels that this sort of activity undermines the efforts of parents who want to feed their children a healthy diet, and I totally agree. But I also believe that it undermines the efforts of anyone who wants to follow a healthy diet; maybe even more so as we’re able to exercise ‘free will’.
Why don’t we simply say ‘no’?
Many supermarkets were found displaying their sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks at children’s eye level, which seems designed to tempt them. We’ve all seen it happen before – a parent is trying to unload the trolley, pay for the shopping, pack it up again and keep an eye on the kids when the little nippers start pestering for sweets. In that situation, it’s easy to see why many parents give in for the sake of a quiet life.
But what about those of us who want to feed ourselves a healthy diet? My local Tesco Metro has recently built an Easter egg mountain around its till area, selling left-over seasonal chocolate at bargain prices. As a long-term Weight Watcher, the temptation for me to indulge can be overwhelming, especially when I’m faced with these unavoidable marketing techniques every day.
Whether I’m weak-willed or I simply face a constant battle with my weight like many, the placement of sweets at the checkout can feel like an invitation to failure. This is especially true at WH Smith – where our own Nikki Whiteman finds she’s constantly pestered by till staff offering her an enormous bar of chocolate for ‘just one pound’ with any of her purchases.
Is it the supermarkets’ problem?
Most of the supermarkets involved had promised to cut down on the promotion of unhealthy snacks at the tills over a decade ago. Clearly this hasn’t happened, but can we really blame them?
I’d love to see supermarkets taking steps toward promoting healthier diets – but if their research suggests it isn’t profitable, there’s little motivation for them to do it.
As supermarkets grow vast and become an integral part of our lives, should we expect them to exercise a certain level of social responsibility and stop this kind of marketing? Or are we wrong to expect a business to put our welfare over profits?
Should supermarkets keep treats away from tills?
Yes - supermarkets shouldn't push unhealthy snacks (64%, 232 Votes)
No - we can make our own decisions (23%, 82 Votes)
I don't mind either way (14%, 50 Votes)
Total Voters: 364