THE Children’s Food Campaign has challenged supermarkets and shops to ditch their till-point junk food displays in a bid to counter child obesity.
The Junk Free Checkouts campaign is designed to get sweets and crisps out of the eyeline of bored children.
Obesity is a very real problem, linked to heart problems, diabetes and other health issues in later life.
Child Measurement Programme, published by the Public Health Executive in Wales this summer, revealed some worrying figures.
Of the Flintshire youngsters measured in 2011 to 2012, 10 per cent of boys aged four to five were considered obese, while 15 per cent of girls in the same age range were obese.
In Wrexham, 13 per cent of boys aged four to five were obese, while 12 per cent in that age bracket were obese.
Roughly a quarter of youngsters in both counties were over healthy weight.
According to a Children’s Food Campaign spokesman: “Our survey of 48 branches of 14 national supermarkets and high street chains found that food was regularly displayed at the checkouts and in the queuing areas, and the vast majority of food promoted was unhealthy.
“In many cases, the food was positioned to attract the attention of children – and was often within their reach – much to the annoyance of parents we asked.”
Now, prompted by a letter from a woman whose youngster picked up and ate a chocolate bar placed within grabbing-distance of a pram, campaigners are calling for shop displays at child-height to be legally restricted in the UK, under the same law that banned TV advertising aimed at youngsters.
Would Flintshire and Wrexham residents back the move to stop parents succumbing to ‘pester power’?
Jane Bridge, 47, of Flint, said: “I never bought sweets for my kids just because they grabbed it at the counter. If I wasn’t planning to get sweets, no amount of grabbing would get them. Just say no.”
Gwen Parry, 41, of Flint, also thought it was down to the parent.
She said: “I never bought sweets for my kids when they were younger on a daily or even weekly basis.
“They still don’t bother with sweets much now they are all teens and if they want some they have to buy them with the money they get from their newspaper round.
And their dentist has thanked me each time they visit.”
Fiona Davies, 31, of Wrexham, said the campaign was ‘ridiculous’ and people should take responsibility for their own children.
Janine Martinho, 41, of Chester, said: “No, I don’t support the campaign,” while Beryl Sherrick, 59, of Mold, summed up what she thought should happen as: “Control your child and say no.”
Hazel Edwards, 55, of Wrexham, said: “I would not give any energy to support this campaign. There are more important things to campaign for.”
But Andrew Beadle, 43, of Coedpoeth, was losing patience with sales ploys. He said: “Salespeople are a complete pain in the backside, trying to sell things when you don’t need them. Keep this stuff away from the kids, the parent should make the choice not the child.
“You might as well have a salesman saying: ‘Have some sweeties little boy!’, against the parent’s wishes.”
Lucinda Aspin, 26, of Wrexham, a mother of two, said the store layouts took advantage of harried shoppers. She said: “I’ll be packing my bags, paying, making sure the children are by me then there’ll be a whole to-do because one has half a wrapped Kinder Egg in her mouth, the other is picking as many as he can carry, the lady at the till is giving you looks because her line is getting bigger. “hat a nightmare.
“I hate it. Get rid.”
Christina Townson, 27, of Chester, said that ‘impulse buy’ sections in shops played on basic psychology. She said: “Throughout your whole shop you have to make decision after decision and you are required to keep resisting temptation and desire, then by the time you reach the checkout you are essentially decision-fatigued and experiencing ego-depletion, it becomes much easier to give in and grab a chocolate bar.
“I just think people need to either develop more self-control and will power to resist that final hurdle.”