Convenience stores will play an even greater role in improving public health from next spring, when the Change 4 Life healthy eating scheme will be active in stores in every region of the country.

The scheme, which now has more than 200 stores signed up, aims to boost shoppers' intake of fresh fruit and vegetables by making them easier and more attractive to buy.

Qualifying Change4Life stores, which are predominantly in deprived areas, receive eye-catching free pos material and, in some cases, government funding for new fresh produce chillers.

Speaking at the launch of the Health White Paper, health secretary Andrew Lansley said that with the right ranges and signage, retailers could play a key role in helping to "nudge" people into adopting healthier behaviours.

The scheme also provided healthy profits for retailers, too, with many participating stores reporting fruit and veg sales increases of up to 50%, he added.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is now looking to extend the scheme to cover healthy foods that contain fruit and vegetables.

Hours after unveiling the White Paper Lansley paid a visit to a Spar store in Norwich to mark the scheme's rollout in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex. Some 11 stores across the East of England have just signed up to the scheme, with many more expected to join in the coming months.

A project co-ordinator will also work with partner stores to offer advice on maximising profits and minimising waste.

Lansley added: "The rollout is great news for local communities, boosting customers' health as well as shops' profits."

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