It’s unlikely that there would be a debate against the valued role nutrition plays in disease prevention or our quality of life. Yet, remarkably, childhood obesity is on the rise. And, healthcare costs are headed in the same direction. Can’t we turn this game around?
In January 2011 the Food Technology magazine reported that recent studies found 14 nutritional foods “can help fight diseases such as cancer, lower cholesterol, fight type 2 diabetes and obesity and keep blood pressure lower.” And, just last week NPR reported on a study that heralded “Diet May Help ADHD Kids More Than Drugs.” Translation: your next OTC might look less like a pill and more like berries, almonds and broccoli.
As we speak, the grocery industry and FDA are working to improve product labeling to help us make healthier choices, but you guessed it, their efforts are not yet in sync. Companies such as NuVal, are introducing simplified, single-digit shelf labels to help consumers make informed decisions as they shop. Though no system can replace your own involvement in your health, it’s good to know that helping consumers thrive is coming into greater focus.
Think about it, there are few places we all go every week that can have such a dramatic impact on our bottom line (and that one, too). What would happen if your grocer re-imagined the shopping experience to reflect our priorities instead of their product descriptions? Categorizing food by its nutritional value, and thereby positive health outcomes, would mean less time spent wading through their options and more time focused on achieving our goals.
This new alignment would give grocers greater opportunities to truly connect with their shoppers. Yesterday it was “my rewards can beat up your rewards” approach. Tomorrow it could be “the doctor is in … the produce aisle.” If nutrition is at the center of our health, then isn’t the grocery store the best place to affect change?
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear everybody’s opinion.
The battle for health absolutely starts in the grocery aisles – and in the home kitchen. I am particularly concerned with two trends … the growing obesity of our children and the growth (in the last 20-30 years) of the concept of “kid food.” What does it say about us as a culture when we associate our children with the most nutritionally deficient, calorie-laden foods? Why do so many parents default to serving chicken nuggets and macaroni & cheese instead of using childhood as a training ground for a lifetime of smart eating? For more on childhood obesity, check out Slate’s recent crowdsourcing project, “A Time to Trim” at http://www.slate.com/id/2288654/
Diane, great comment. You’re spot on to highlight our “adult” role in teaching our children good nutritional habits. A few tips for parents to consider: stock the cabinets with several healthy food options so kids can enjoy choosing for themselves, encourage children to eat slowly so they can feel the sensation of fullness better, involve your children in shopping and preparing meals, plan snack times as part of their overall nutritious regimen (and yours too) and when you pick up the remote put down the fork. Eating in front of the TV means your child isn’t paying attention to what or how they are eating and that’s critical for them to learn. What are some other ideas parents can easily integrate into their day?