Parents' and carers' awareness and perceptions of UK supermarket policies on less healthy food at checkouts: A qualitative study



Ford A, Eadie D, Adams J, Adamson A, White M & Stead M (2020) Parents' and carers' awareness and perceptions of UK supermarket policies on less healthy food at checkouts: A qualitative study. Appetite, 147, Art. No.: 104541.

Background In the retail environment strategic placement of food influences purchasing. Foods placed at checkouts have tended to be less healthy. In response to consumer concern some UK supermarkets voluntarily committed to removing less healthy food from their checkouts. We explored qualitatively the perceptions and experiences of parents and carers of younger children regarding food at supermarket checkouts, supermarket checkout food policies, and other supermarket stimuli which influences purchasing. Methods Twelve focus groups were conducted in urban central Scotland with 91 parents/carers of primary school aged children (aged 5–11 years). Results The availability of less healthy foods at checkouts was perceived as problematic, encouraging purchase requests by children and impulse buys by adults. Parents/carers were aware of a change in some supermarkets where less healthy foods had been replaced with healthier items and they were supportive of supermarket policies that placed restrictions on checkout food. Many parents/carers welcomed product-free checkouts, however the whole supermarket was perceived as manipulative and stimulating. Conclusion Voluntary supermarket policies which clearly and consistently restrict the placement of less healthy foods at checkouts have been welcomed by parents/carers of young children. Given that marketing strategies throughout the whole supermarket were viewed as problematic, public health policymakers and advocacy groups may want to encourage supermarkets to develop broader policies to support healthier food purchasing.

Food policy; Supermarkets; Checkouts; Qualitative; Parents; Children

Appetite: Volume 147

FundersPublic Health Research Consortium and Department of Health and Social Care
Publication date01/04/2020
Publication date online26/11/2019
Date accepted by journal25/11/2019
PublisherElsevier BV

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Dr Allison Ford
Dr Allison Ford

Research Fellow, Institute for Social Marketing

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