Candy at the Cash Register?

October 11, 2012 — In an opinion piece published by the New England Journal of Medicine and spotlighted by the Washington Post, Deborah A. Cohen, M.D., M.P.H., of RAND Health in Santa Monica, and Susan H. Babey, Ph.D., of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, argue for increased oversight in the placement of high-calorie, low-nutrition food in grocery stores. According to the authors, since many people are impelled by external stimuli to choose foods that are not healthy for them and that they wish they hadn’t chosen after eating them, stores would be doing a public health service by putting foods like chips, candy and sugary drinks in a hard-to-reach part of the store instead of in the check-out lines.

They point out that "even when people are trying to make healthy choices, their ability to resist palatable foods in convenient locations wanes when they are distracted, are under stress, are tired, or have just made other decisions that deplete their cognitive capacity." They argue that, like carcinogens in water, we should consider food placement in stores a hidden risk factor and put rules into place that protect unwitting consumers.

You can read the Washington Post article here and the New England Journal of Medicine piece here.