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Medical Journal Takes on Cash-Register Candy

WALTHAM, Mass. — An article published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine argued that prominent displays of food items high in sugar, fat and salt — such as candy displays at supermarket checkout counters — should be treated as a risk factor for obesity and chronic diseases.

The Perspective article, written by Deborah A. Cohen and Susan H. Babey, said such impulse marketing increases the rate at which food is sold and consumed. “What and how much people eat are highly influenced by contextual factors that they may not recognize and therefore cannot easily resist,” the article said.

Read more: Cutting the Fat: The Fight Against Childhood Obesity

“We need to test new approaches to risk reduction that do not place additional cognitive demands on the population, such as limiting the types of foods that can be displayed in prominent end-of-aisle locations and restricting foods associated with chronic diseases to locations that require a deliberate search to find,” the authors contended. “Harnessing marketing research to control obesity could help millions of people who desperately want to reduce their risks of chronic diseases.”

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