The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released a report claiming that candy, energy bars, chips, and cookies constitute 90 percent of foods marketed in store checkout lanes, while sugar-sweetened beverages constitute 60 percent of the beverage options. According to the study, which examined 30 retailers in the Washington, D.C., area, 86 percent of non-grocery retailers displayed foods and/or beverages in checkout aisles, but only one food store abstained from marketing foods or beverages at the point of sale. In addition, the one retailer with a designated “family-friendly” aisle still marketed allegedly unhealthy foods and beverages in amounts and percentages similar to those found in regular checkout lanes.

Arguing that such practices promote obesity, the consumer watchdog is urging retailers to set “nutrition standards for their checkout offerings” by limiting the amount of calories, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium in food and beverage options. “In this age of diabetes and obesity, it’s unethical for retailers to push people to buy and consume extra calories that will harm their health,” opined CSPI Senior Nutrition Policy Counsel Jessica Almy in an October 16, 2014, press release. “Food stores should set nutrition standards for the foods at checkout and non-food retailers should get out of the junk-food business altogether.”