Have you noticed snack foods popping up in non-grocery stores? A new study shows that high calorie snack foods are appearing in non-traditional food stores. Right now, 22 percent of U.S. furniture stores now sell sweet or salty snacks. In fact, the sale of high-calorie snack foods has moved far beyond grocery stores to hit most segments of the retail market. The easy availability of snack items is contributing to America’s obesity epidemic, the researchers said. The researchers found snack food for sale in 41 percent of such stores. Candy was the most frequently sold item (in 33 percent), followed by sugary drinks (20 percent) and salty snacks (17 percent). Most often, high-calories products were found temptingly close to the checkout line. Snack foods were found in nearly all pharmacies (96 percent), most gas stations (94 percent), more than a fifth (22 percent) of furniture stores, 16 percent of clothing stores and 29 to 65 percent of other non-food stores. Although it is impossible to stop the merchants from selling these products, more education is needed on the part of consumers so they do not buy it. This is just another link in the obesity chain. It is estimated that obesity causes 300,000 deaths per year in the United States. Experts agree whenever possible, skip the snacks. They can account for 30-40% of our daily caloric intake. Spend your calories wisely. Choose a protein, vegetable or fresh fruit snack instead of one packed with fat, carbohydrates or sugars. Willpower at the vending machine or cash register will save you pounds and may save your life. Yours in good health, Linda Hlivka Clinical Nutritionist