UK supermarket firm Asda is to place fresh fruit instead of sweets and chocolate bars beside some checkouts in order to help tackle rising obesity levels in the UK.

In October this year, supermarkets were urged by the Parents Jury, a group set up by the Food Commission to enable parents to express their views about children's food and food marketing, to stop displaying confectionery, crisps and sugary soft drinks at the checkouts. The practice was said to deliberately target children with junk food.

A Parents Jury survey criticised UK retailers Asda, Safeway and Marks & Spencer for checkout displays that put confectionery, crisps and soft drinks within toddlers' reach.

Penny Coates, head of Asda's non-branded products, told MPs on the Health Select Committee obesity inquiry this week that Asda would make the changes in all 265 stores in the new year. But the single portions of fruit and other healthy snacks would initially only be placed at three in 20 checkouts, reported the Guardian.

"We need to do this in a controlled way. Customers are used to buying sweets at checkouts so we have to make sure this works before we roll it out to all," Coates was quoted by the newspaper as saying.