More than half of parents claim their best efforts to feed their children healthily are hampered by being surrounded by chocolates, sweets and other unhealthy snacks, new research reveals.

The figures from Lidl find that 52 per cent of parents find it hard to get their children to eat healthily when there are snacks everywhere – particularly at supermarket checkouts.

The findings come as the supermarket announces the national roll-out of its Healthy Checkouts initiative, which will see sweets and chocolates removed from all checkouts in Lidl’s 600 stores from this month.

These will be replaced with more nutritious options such as dried fruits and nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and fruit juices.

The move follows a successful trial in 2013 and positive customer feedback. According to the Lidl research 68 per cent of parents are pestered by their children for chocolates at the checkout - one in six (16 per cent) every single time.

Two in three parents (66 per cent) admit they give in and buy their children snacks some or all of the time. As well as the nutritional concerns, the cost of giving in to children’s temptation soon mounts, with some 15 per cent of parents spending the equivalent of £20-40 a month on supermarket snacks.

But one in 10 parents (10 per cent) admit that it’s difficult to say no to their children when they ask for sweets and other snacks, with one in six (16 per cent) admitting they use the offer of a ‘treat’ as a reward for being well-behaved during the rest of the shopping trip.

Yet there appears to be widespread support for healthier checkouts.

Nearly two thirds of parents (61 per cent) say they want supermarkets to offer healthier alternatives with just five per cent disagreeing.

Moreover, 26 per cent claim that their children prefer healthier snacks where they are on offer at supermarket checkouts.

Ronny Gottschlich, managing director of Lidl UK, said: “We’re the first supermarket to take such a bold step. We’re committed not only to raising awareness of the importance of balanced diets and healthy lifestyles, but also to making it easier for our customers to follow them.

"We know how difficult it can be to say no to pester power, so by removing sweets and chocolates from our tills we can make it easier for parents to reward children in healthier ways.

“Parents are in favour of healthier checkouts and with six in 10 households visiting Lidl at least once in the last year and five million customers a week coming through our doors, it’s important for us to meet their needs and concerns.”

The national rollout comes after an initial 10-week trial at the start of 2013, which saw ‘treat’ items replaced with more nutritious alternatives at one checkout in every store.

These checkouts received 20per cent higher footfall and customer research found that seven out of 10 (70 per cent) would pick a sweet-free checkout over a traditional one. All Lidl checkouts will now be free from sweets and chocolates.

The move is the latest step from Lidl to support customers in making healthier lifestyle decisions. Lidl is committed to the Department of Health’s Responsibility Deal, including the Fruit and Vegetable Pledge, and hopes the Healthy Checkout initiative will help customers to consume the recommended five portions of fruit a day.

Malcolm Clark, co-ordinator of the Children’s Food Campaign, which has been calling for junk free checkouts, said: “We congratulate Lidl for making this move and leading the way on removing unhealthy snacks from checkouts.

"The onus is now on other supermarkets and retailers to follow suit; and we and the British Dietetic Association will keep up the pressure for them to do so.”