Community perceptions regarding the promotion of energy dense snack foods and soft drinks in Australian supermarkets, and attitudes toward regulatory change. (#94)
Background and Aim: The majority of Australians fail to meet national guidelines for the consumption of energy dense snack foods. These foods are heavily promoted in Australian supermarkets, which are the major source of food for the majority of households. We examined shoppers’ perceptions of the promotion of energy dense snack foods and soft drinks in Australian supermarkets and explored their attitudes toward various potential regulatory options.
Methods: Responses were obtained from the main food shopper in 190 households from 4 clusters (2 in most disadvantaged areas, 2 in least disadvantaged areas). Women represented 67% of the sample and 69% were born in Australia. Analyses were conducted for the whole sample and by area-level disadvantage.
Results: The majority of participants frequently shopped at large supermarkets (92%) and reported doing the majority of their food shopping in these stores (69%). Most people (77%) believed supermarkets dedicate too much space to soft drinks and snack foods, and 86% would like supermarket regulation of these products (35% preferring Government regulation; 51% preferring self-regulation). Respondents supported each of: 1) snack/soft-drink-free checkouts (mean (SE) of 4.9 (0.16) on a scale of 1-7 where 1=do not support and 7=strongly support), 2) replacing snacks/soft-drinks at checkouts with fruit/vegetables (mean = 4.8 (0.16)), 3) limits on the proportion of checkouts, end-of-aisle displays and island bins that can display snacks/soft-drinks (mean 4.8 to 5.1), 4) regulation of shelf space dedicated to these products (mean = 4.7 (0.15)) and 5) regulation to keep children’s toys out of snack food aisles (mean = 5.5 (0.14)). Variation in purchasing of snack foods by area-level socioeconomic position was observed.
Conclusion: A strong community desire for change to supermarket practices relating to the availability of soft drinks and energy-dense snacks was evident.