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Recently, the British supermarket chain, Tesco, banned sweets from the checkout aisles of all of their stores. On July 18, 2014, reported that New Zealand is thinking of also banning sweets at checkout counters. What a relief for parents who shop with their children! However, is struggling with a child’s desire for sweets by the supermarket checkout morally wrong, or just another parental struggle for control?


Saying “no” to your child can be difficult. We want our children to be happy. But, is instant gratification as important as teaching our children self-control and healthy eating? There are some ways to deal with a child’s desire for sweets in the checkout lane.

First of all, say “no” with love and understanding. Your child is under a great deal of pressure in the supermarket. The environment is designed for temptation, and it seems, the more unhealthy the food, the greater the effort to make it attractive. This is especially true of sweets at the checkout lane.

Secondly, educate your child. Even a very young child can understand that some foods and ingredients are unhealthy. Plus, this gives you a reason and ammunition for saying “no. If your child is old enough, you can even have them read the labels to look for unhealthy ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.

Third, except your responsibility as a parent. You are responsible for your child’s health. Use your shopping as an opportunity to buy the healthy food your child needs. You should not feel guilty accepting your parental responsibility and saying “no” to sweets in the checkout lane is a major part of seeing that your child makes healthy choices.

By the time you are through shopping with your children, you both may be tired and hungry. The temptation is to make that impulse buy of sweets and avoid a confrontation with your child.

Stores realize this. Sweets at the checkout provide profits for a store. reported in 2009, that a study on impulse buying at checkout counters indicated candy sales were the highest at 30% of all purchases. Additionally, a study done in the same year by Mars, Time-Warner, Wrigley, Coca-Cola and others discovered that 1% of all supermarket sales happen at the checkout counter. At the top of the list are magazine and drinks. The third item is candy. Magazines, drinks, and candy together total 80% of all checkout purchases.

For Tesco, the decision to remove sweets from the checkout lane came after a survey of Tesco customer. Two-thirds of the customers surveyed indicated they would make healthier choices for their child and eat healthier if sweets were removed from the checkout lanes. It will be interesting to see if other stores decide to do the same. Whether they do or not, it is important for parents to assume control over the dietary decisions of their children. This includes saying no to sweets at the checkout lane.

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