Parents losing ‘pester power’ battle at the supermarket

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 12th December 2012

New research by the Cancer Council NSW and the University of Newcastle has found that Australian shoppers feel that supermarkets exacerbate the “pester power” pressure from children during the shopping experience.

The study shows that supermarkets are still positioning confectionary promoted by cartoon and movie characters at the checkout, which Cancer Council NSW has described as “confectionery traps.”

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.

The report said that the “pester power” influence was being caused by colourful packaging, items featuring well known cartoon characters, and junk food being strategically placed at check out.

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,” she said.

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 the “ongoing battle.”

“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 industry, parents can’t fight this on their own,” Ms Chapman said.

According to the Cancer Council NSW, nearly a quarter of Australian children are currently overweight and obese.