Supermarket giant planning to remove sweets from checkouts
TESCO is to remove sweets from its checkouts to help customers make healthier food choices.
The supermarket chain said it will complete the measure in its 146 Irish stores by the end of the year.
It follows a call by healthy eating body Safefood for all supermarkets to support customers trying to eat healthily by making checkouts sweet-free.
Tesco Ireland chief executive Phil Clarke said that its customers "have made it clear to us that removing sweets and chocolates from checkouts will help them to make healthier choices, so we are responding to this.
"We all know how easy it is to be tempted by unhealthy treats at the checkout," he said.
Safefood research has shown that three-quarters of shoppers believe junk food like sweets and crisps at the checkout contributes to obesity, while a third of customers regularly buy such items on impulse.
Safefood has urged parents to resist children's demands for treats in supermarkets, and wrote to supermarket bosses asking them to play their part in the fight against obesity.
Safefood chief executive Martin Higgins said that Tesco's move was a "powerful recognition of how 'pester power' and impulse-buying affect the food choices we make every day.
"We hope more retailers will follow this significant initiative by Tesco which we welcome," he said.
Obesity expert Dr Eva Orsmond said that over 60pc of the Irish population is overweight and 8pc of children are obese so healthy-eating plans are critical.
"Irish supermarkets have a clear role to play in helping parents and shoppers to make healthier choices for their families, so I applaud Tesco for their announcement today," she said.
Tesco said that 65pc of its checkouts were already sweet-free and it would extend this to all of them by the end of December. The change is also being introduced in Tesco's UK outlets.
It was also striving to reduce calories in its soft drinks, sandwiches and ready meals, by introducing new ranges, reducing sugar and fat and increasing fruit and vegetable content.
Aldi said earlier this year it is monitoring a trial of healthy eating tills in its UK stores with a view to implementing this in Ireland if successful.
SuperValu has said it recommends its franchise holders should offer customers the choice of using sweet-free checkouts and a number did.
Meanwhile, Safefood said that parents are getting the message about how to prevent childhood obesity with four out of five parents saying that the ad campaigns urging them to cut portion sizes, reduce sugary drinks and stop buying treats were relevant.
A survey of 400 parents showed 84pc agreed the Safefood campaign gave them new information and 89pc said it made them think about the impact the food they give their children will have in later life, nutrition specialist Dr Marian Faughnan told the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland.
One in four Irish children is already overweight or obese by the age of three, studies have shown, carrying serious risk of health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.