Temptation at the Checkout

The Lempert Report
June 28, 2023

There's a new report out of the University of California at Davis that found that 70% of foods and beverages at the checkout in supermarkets are unhealthy. For snack size options, even a higher proportion were unhealthy, 89%. And there was a study published just this month in current developments in nutrition. Most food and beverage options at checkout consists of candy 31%, sugar sweetened beverages 11%, salty snacks 9%, and sweets 6%. I'm not sure of the difference between candy and sweets. And water only represented 3% of food and beverage options. And they looked at these. Researchers went to 102 food stores in Davis, Sacramento, Oakland and Berkeley, California. What's interesting about these stores? Berkeley, in February 2021, put into effect a law that required large food stores to offer more nutritious offerings at the checkout. They were the first city in the US to implement a healthy checkout policy. But to be honest with you, we've seen retailers before this have no candy checkout lanes. I know that Larry Wilson from Shoprite. He did it probably 20 years ago. I know that there's some Wegmans that do it, but the reality is that this study should be eye-opening to supermarkets. And yes, you make a lot of money selling M&Ms and Snickers bars and stuff like that, but at what cost?

Sally: Yes, this is a very interesting study and it is really exciting that Berkeley is trying this, just so we can all see what the results of that are, how people respond to it. It has always been a frustration, i think, for parents that are checking out with children, that all of those unhealthy items are right there when you're in the middle of loading.

Phil: Give me, give me, give me, give me.

Sally: You're busy loading your groceries up on the belt and trying to get through and they're asking you at the same time, and so it's yes. Yes, you can have it. You can have it, but it is. It's complicated, and I think there are a lot of parents out there that would want to shop at a grocery store where they don't have that, so they don't have to deal with it. The candy is a choice. It's there in the store, it's in the candy aisle, but if it's not right there at the checkout, then that alleviates a lot of pressure on people and also just temptation. Sometimes you go to the grocery store really hungry and you over buy and then you're standing in the checkout line and you're like, "yeah, i'll eat a king-size Snickers.

Phil: And also let's not forget that at the checkout line, especially if you have somebody in front of you, you're just standing there so you can read weekly world news, or you can pick up some candy either one you know and find out what Martians are or attacking us these days.