SUPERMARKETS are being urged to ban sweets and other junk food from their check-out stands in a bid to battle childhood obesity.
The island-wide food safety organisation Safefood is calling on supermarkets to voluntarily remove high fat and high sugar sweets, chocolates, crisps and other fattening junk food from their check-out stands and queuing areas to help reduce the lure of so-called 'goodies' to children.
The initiative coincides with a television ad campaign urging parents to "just say no" to their children when they hound them for sweets and other 'treats' when they are grocery shopping.
The move comes after Safefood reported last autumn that 25pc of school-age children are grossly overweight or obese with 6pc of three-year-olds now obese.
Along with encouraging parents to feed their children smaller portions and fewer treats and fizzy drinks, safefood is also urging parents to encourage their children to get more exercise and spent less time in front of the television or computer screen.
But it is also attempting to help reduce the temptation at the till and already three out of seven major supermarkets in Ireland have responded to Safefood's campaign, which began in December when it wrote to them asking them to consider sweet-free check-outs.
They include the SuperValu chain – which has taken over the former Superquinn brand – which has made 20pc of its checkouts sweet-free, said a Safefood spokeswoman.
Discount supermarket chains Aldi and Lidl are also looking at bringing in sweets-free check-outs at their Irish stores after introducing them on a pilot basis in the UK.
While none of the supermarkets have implemented policies reducing sweet displays, "it's still early days," according to a safefood spokeswoman. "We're still pretty optimistic," she said.