Pester power remains a constant battle for NSW parents at supermarkets a new study by Cancer Council NSW has revealed.
Parents and their children are being bombarded with confectionery traps at checkouts and products promoted by cartoon and movie characters when they shop at supermarkets.
The joint Cancer Council NSW and the University of Newcastle study surveyed 158 parents at the end of a supermarket visit, with 73 per cent reporting they had been pestered to buy food during a supermarket visit. Of those parents who were pestered, 70 per cent gave in and bought the products.
Most parents who were pestered to buy food said the foods they purchased were unhealthy, with confectionery and chocolate being the most common pester power foods.
Kathy Chapman, Nutritionist and Director of Health Strategies for Cancer Council NSW, said the study results showed that supermarkets needed to support parents and help make the shopping experience an enjoyable one, not a pester power battle.
“The study was unique as it was carried out at the supermarket, and uncovered lots of issues parents face during their routine trips to the supermarket, especially when it came to unhealthy foods that were heavily marketed towards kids.
“Pester power tactics such as colourful packaging with well known cartoon characters and junk food being strategically placed at check outs is all too familiar to parents.
Ms Chapman went on to say that food marketing and the promotion of unhealthy foods to kids needs to be addressed if parents are going to win this ongoing battle.
Tackling junk food marketing to children is important, especially at supermarkets. We know that food marketing encourages children to pester¹ and if they nag mum or dad into buying them an unhealthy food they will associate going to the supermarket with getting a treat.
“Supermarkets can support parents better by creating an environment that doesn’t encourage and facilitate pester power. Supermarkets can help by making small changes such as introducing healthy foods at checkout lines and by removing confectionery and unhealthy food promotions that are especially appealing to children from the ends of aisles, it can help reduce the desire for children to pester for these foods.
“Parents obviously have an important to play in teaching their kids healthy habits but the responsibility for reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food marketing should not lie with the parents alone, and the government should introduce better advertising regulations to prevent so much unhealthy food being marketed to children We know that food marketing influences children – it influences their food preferences, it influences the food they eat and it influences which foods they pester their parents to buy.
“Parents are up against powerful food advertisers who have millions of dollar invested in this industry. In 2010, the Australian food industry spent more than $400 million on marketing and was the seventh largest advertising industry2, parents can’t fight this on their own.
“Nearly a quarter of Australian children are currently overweight and obese³ and we need supermarkets and food advertisers to support parents better to help reduce this figure. It’s all about setting healthy eating habits early on in life and maintaining a healthy weight to help prevent future obesity related illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease”, she said.