Availability of HFSS items in food shops in the communities first area of central Rhyl; what is on offer at checkouts and promotional area and how does it compare with healthy eating guidelines?
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Introduction: In wales around 23% of adults are obese, the highest rates are in the most deprived areas. Snack foods may be in part to blame for an increase in obesity rates. Checkouts in food shops have been found to contain a high number of high fat, salt or sugar (HFSS) snacks particularly in low income areas. Fruit and vegetable availability and consumption is reported to be low in more deprived areas, with the lowest rates of consumption being in the North Wales area. Methods: The study is a cross-sectional audit, with data collected though observations. It took place in the Rhyl West 2 area (RW2A) which is a deprive area in Wales. Snacks on and in view of checkouts were audited, to identify the range of healthy versus HFSS snacks available. Fruit and vegetable availability in the shops within (RW2A) were also recorded. Results: All shops had snack foods on at least some of their checkouts. 78% of checkouts audited contained snack foods. Of these 48% contained healthy snack and 58% contained HFSS snacks. This shows a greater availability of HFSS snacks on checkouts. Supermarkets had greater availability of healthy snack items compared to in-town shops. All in-town shops offered fruit and vegetables in some form however the quality and variety varied between shops. Conclusion: It would be possible to make healthy snack swaps from the items available at the supermarket checkouts however not at most in-town shop checkouts. It would also be possible to meet the 5-a-day recommendations for fruit and vegetables when shopping in the in-town shops however, the variety and quality available would be reduced compared to a supermarket.
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