Eating healthier is a central challenge in the lives of millions of North Americans, but a new trend can provide valuable assistance to those struggling with weight and health concerns: the rise of supermarket dietitians.
Over a third of U.S. adults are obese, which results in an estimated annual cost of ~$150 billion in medical expenses. Obesity is directly related to the leading causes of preventable deaths, which claim 200,000 lives every year in the United States alone.
Clearly, this is a far-reaching problem without an easy solution. Studies show that even though many consumers want to eat healthier and say they’ll buy more fruits and vegetables, in practice they are swayed by “creative marketing of processed food and beverages and exhibit a strong bias for convenience products.”
Since consumers often go grocery shopping with good intentions but leave with bad foods, it makes perfect sense to target them while they’re in the store. Though other strategies have proven to be effective, from placing healthy foods closer to the check-out to putting mirrors in shopping carts (yep, it’s true!), a well-trained, in-store nutrition expert can potentially have the biggest impact of all.
The results speak for themselves: A two-year study that concluded earlier this year found that overweight individuals counseled by dietitians had double the odds of achieving clinically significant weight loss compared to those who didn’t! Plus, with an increasing presence in supermarkets, dietitians now have access to a much wider range of consumers than ever before.
Traditionally reaching consumers in hospitals and medical offices, registered dietitians have also been commonly employed by supermarkets over the years, but primarily at the corporate level. That’s changing very quickly, as food-industry analyst Phil Lempert (the “Supermarket Guru”) estimates the current number of 500-600 retail dietitians will double in just two years (and others think it will double even sooner)! This is a testament to the amount of success they’re having and the positive response from consumers.
We at Okanagan Specialty Fruits strongly support any strategies that can be used to help consumers eat healthier – especially those proven to be as effective as dietitians! That’s why we’re supporting the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s 2014 annual conference, “The Consumer Connection”. The event aims to help retailers and supermarket dietitians connect and improve their ability to help consumers and we couldn’t be more proud to assist such a worthwhile cause!