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The Potential for Healthy Checkout Policies to Advance Nutrition Equity.



As the only place in a store where all customers must pass through and wait, the checkout lane may be particularly influential over consumer purchases. Because most foods and beverages sold at checkout are unhealthy (e.g., candy, sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and salty snacks), policymakers and advocates have expressed growing interest in healthy checkout policies. To understand the extent to which such policies could improve nutrition equity, we assessed the prevalence and sociodemographic correlates of purchasing items found at (i.e., from) checkout.


We assessed self-reported checkout purchasing and sociodemographic characteristics in a national convenience sample of adults (n = 10,348) completing an online survey in 2021.


Over one third (36%) of participants reported purchasing foods or drinks from checkout during their last grocery shopping trip. Purchasing items from checkout was more common among men; adults < 55 years of age; low-income consumers; Hispanic, non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native, and non-Hispanic Black consumers; those with a graduate or professional degree; parents; and consumers diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes (p-values < 0.05).


Purchasing foods or beverages from store checkouts is common and more prevalent among low-income and Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Black consumers. These results suggest that healthy checkout policies have the potential to improve nutrition equity.

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