WASHINGTON DC: Nearly three-quarters (73%) of US consumers believe the presence of unhealthy food and soda in supermarkets and convenience stores is a health problem and they want retailers to do more to rectify the situation.

Specifically, four in five (79%) say supermarkets should do more to make it easier for people to eat healthily, while more than three-quarters think soda (79%) and candy (78%) should not be sold at checkout.

Instead, these consumers want to see soda and candy moved to their own aisle, with 80% saying they would prefer stores to offer healthier food and drink options at checkout.

These are some of the key findings from a survey of more than 1,000 US adults, conducted in early December by Caravan ORC International on behalf of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a non-profit consumer advocacy group.

Food and drink retailers, who usually have to operate within tight profit margins, typically stock higher margin impulse goods at checkout – and so the survey for CSPI also explored American impulse buying habits.

It found that half (51%) of respondents purchase candy or soda at checkout, but three-quarters (76%) express regret after doing so.

A similar proportion (78%) say checkouts are stocked with a lot of food and beverages they do not want to buy, while almost two-thirds (63%) say their impression of a store would improve if it offered healthy checkout lanes.

Interestingly, just 15% of US consumers believe supermarkets put the interests of shoppers first, while more than half (55%) think supermarkets are more concerned about the interests of food manufacturers.

Elsewhere, the survey revealed that three-quarters (75%) of consumers say it is hard for parents to shop with children because there is so much junk food, leading 80% of parents to say they would use healthy checkout aisles regularly if stores made them available.

Another 86% of parents believe characters on food packaging, toys that come in cereal boxes, candy at checkout, as well as other in-store promotions, result in conflict with their children.

Data sourced from the Center for Science in the Public Interest; additional content by WARC staff