(Un)healthy Checkout


It seems everywhere you shop these days, there is candy, soda, and other sugar-sweetened beverages at checkout. This is a powerful form of food marketing that contributes to unhealthy eating.

Just as the natural environment is polluted by chemical emissions, our food environment is polluted by a glut of sugar, salt, and fat—and checkout contributes to this unhealthy food environment. The widespread availability of junk food and sugary beverages means that even shopping for clothes or books has become yet another occasion for food companies to push (unhealthy) products on people.

Instead, imagine finding fresh and healthy options at checkout. Are you an advocate? Join the movement to ensure that checkout in your community does not undermine health. Are you a retailer? Learn why many stores are already offering healthier checkout and how you can too.


  1. Temptation at Checkout: The Food Industry’s Sneaky Strategy for Selling More” reveals how checkout works to prompt purchases. Profiling healthy checkout projects around the United States, and three retail policies in the United Kingdom, the report shows that healthy checkout is possible and would be a major step forward. (For the executive summary, click here). 
  2. Rigged: Supermarket Shelves for Sale” uncovers backroom deals between stores and food manufacturers that drive supermarket offerings, affecting the selection and promotion of particular products in the store. The cost to get one candy bar in every checkout aisle of the biggest U.S. supermarkets? As much as $1 million a year. (For a brief overview, click here).
  3.  “Sugar Overload: Retail Checkout Promotes Obesity” examines the prevalence and healthfulness of foods and beverages in retail checkout aisles at chain retailers. (For a one-page summary, click here).
  4. Bridging the Gap measured the Availability of Healthy Food Products at Checkout Nationwide from 2010–2012 and found that many more checkouts pushed candy or sugary drinks than fresh fruits and vegetables or water.


  1.  “Why Healthy Checkout?” is a two-page factsheet that details evidence-based reasons food stores should rethink checkout.
  2. "How Grocery Store Agreements Impact Public Health" is a two-page factsheet that demonstrates the impact of trade promotion fees on public health.
  3. "In-Store Marketing Induces Impulse Buys" details how in-store marketing drives purchases of unhealthy products.
  4. A new video from CSPI shows why healthy checkout is good for business and for consumers.
  5. Looking to change checkout offerings in your community? Consult our model nutrition standards for checkout and list of snacks, beverages, and entrees that meet these standards.
  6. To see a wide variety of checkout aisles from around the country, visit our Pinterest boards “Healthy Checkout” and “Temptation at Checkout.”
  7. ChangeLabs Solutions offers a Model Healthy Checkout Aisle Ordinance for municipalities, which can be adapted to be a state law or board of health policy. Please contact CSPI at nutritionpolicy@cspinet.org if you would like technical assistance with introducing an ordinance in your community.
  8. Rethink Checkout” is an infographic about giving shoppers what they want at checkout. 
  9. “Consumer Perceptions of Retail Checkout” is a two-page factsheet of results from a nationally representative poll that found that shoppers’ want supermarkets to do more to support their health and that healthy checkout is a preferred approach.
  10. "Checkout: They're Called Impulse Buys for a Reason" is an infographic about consumer habits and desires at checkout.
  11. If you are interested in learning why we buy what we buy at the supermarket, watch CSPI’s 11-minute whiteboard lecture “Anatomy of a Supermarket Purchase.”
  12. Curious to learn 8 ways that supermarkets influence your shopping decisions? Click here to see how supermarkets get you to buy more food.
  13. To join our work to make it easier for people to eat well, please sign up for our action network. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter