Junk food needs to be removed from checkouts at supermarkets.
Junk food needs to be removed from checkouts at supermarkets.

Bid to stop checkouts making us fat

RESTRICTION of junk food near the checkouts at the state's stores and supermarkets is one of the ways to tackle the spiralling obesity crisis, the state's top doctor says.

As a rising number of shops have introduced winding mazes lined with confectionary at check-outs, the Australian Medical Association Queensland chief believes it's time to consider policies that control these in-your-face displays.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland has reacted to a report released yesterday in PLOS Medicine from the University of Cambridge, which shows that stores in the UK which adopted checkout display policies in 2016 and 2017 resulted in a 76 per cent drop in people buying impulse snacks as "on-the-go" meals.

 

Junk food needs to be removed from checkouts at supermarkets.
Junk food needs to be removed from checkouts at supermarkets.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that in 2017-18, 67 per cent of Australian adults were overweight or obese - that's a shocking 12.5 million people. This is an increase from 63.4 per cent in 2014-15.

"The check out aisle policy from UK is just one such innovative policy that can be considered. AMAQ will work with the Healthy Futures Commission to come up with other such innovative policies and interventions. We need to collectively do what we can to target an already tuned out community on the risks of obesity," president Dr Dilip Dhupelia told The Courier-Mail.

The new report focused on stores with a pledge to provide healthier checkout foods and used data on food purchases that had been recorded since 2013 by more than 30,000 households as well as dates spanning 2016 and 2017 from a 7500 person UK purchase panel.

Introduction of checkout food policies was associated with an immediate 17.3 per cent reduction in purchases of small packages of sugary confectionary, chocolate and potato crisps per four week span in 2013. One year following the introduction of such a policy, the researchers found a 15.5 per cent reduction in packages of these common checkout foods purchased per four weeks.

Earlier this year a first-of-its kind study on obesity interventions from Deakin University called for a reduction in temptations for shoppers by replacing lollies and sugary drinks near registers with healthy snacks and bottled water. The researchers commended the efforts made by some supermarkets like the Woolworths free fruit for kids program.