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Shoppers Buy Fattier Foods As They Ditch Grocery Stores for Costco, Walmart

A study finds that shoppers are increasingly going to warehouse clubs and mass merchandise retailers to buy their food.

Bad news for people who love buying groceries at Costco and Walmart. A new study finds that shoppers are increasingly going to warehouse clubs and mass-merchandise retailers to buy their food, and what they're getting is loaded with fat, sugar and sodium.

Picking up dinner along with a 30-pack of toilet paper is pretty convenient. These days, more people are turning to non-grocery stores to buy their food, according to a study published this week in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The problem is that the packaged food at these stores is often filled with more calories, sugar, sodium and saturated fat than packaged foods from grocery stores, the study found.

From 2000 to 2012, researchers had households report their purchases with the help of a barcode scanner, which let researchers know the nutritional content of everything bought. Participants in the study also reported where they bought their food.

Over the course of the study, the percentage of packaged foods in each household bought from mass merchandisers like Walmart and Target increased from 13.1 percent to 23.9 percent. The percentage bought from warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam's Club increased by 3.6 percent, while the percentage bought from grocery stores decreased by more than 12 percent.

In 2012, a lot of the packaged food purchases (46.3 percent) still came from grocery stores. But purchases at other types of stores are clearly growing, which, according to the study, might not be great for the nation's waistlines.