Convenience stores are to lead the way in the Government's new anti-obesity campaign.

The Change4Life campaign was unveiled by health secretary Alan Johnson this week, with 12 convenience stores in the North-East given funding for a pilot scheme aimed at improving sales of fruit and vegetables in deprived areas.

Spar, Londis, Mills Group, Premier, Nisa-Today's and Costcutter each have two stores involved in the scheme. The retailers will receive Government funding to buy fruit and vegetable chillers, stands and marketing materials. A project co-ordinator will be assigned to stores to offer advice on maximising profit, minimising waste and promoting fresh produce.

The symbol groups have worked with the Association of Convenience Stores to set up the scheme, and public affairs director Shane Brennan said it was hoping to have 120 stores involved by next Spring.

"This is about proving the business case for selling fresh produce to retailers who would not previously have done so and is about getting the message across that local shops are a place to go to buy this produce," he said.

The wider Change4Life project will involve participation across the industry. Tesco and Asda have agreed to promote healthy eating, and major suppliers have pledged support.