Supermarkets, align with shoppers against diabetes

March 31, 2011

Tell shoppers about the April Diabetes Risk Test campaign to help millions of pre-diabetics lessen their chances of getting Type 2.

The federal fight against obesity – and particularly against childhood obesity – could help millions of Americans avoid the complications, pain and expense of Type 2 diabetes. The sooner people eat smarter, the sooner they’ll take themselves out of harm’s way.

This disease is insidious. It can inflict internal damage quietly, without blatant symptoms. Some 79 million Americans (1 in 3 U.S. adults] are in a pre-diabetes condition, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet. Add to this the 26 million already diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2, including 1.9 million new diagnoses in 2010, the seven million who have diabetes but don’t know it, and the 16% of pregnant women who have gestational diabetes – and it is time supermarkets help consumers to manage the disease or keep from getting it.

Supermarkets should address diabetes from a total-store perspective, we feel at The Lempert Report. This goes well beyond building the pharmacy business. As vital as the pharmacy component is, stores must acknowledge the role food plays in this disease, and work to minimize health pitfalls at their shelves. 

For example, supermarkets are filled with temptations that could veer care regimens off course. Even the most disciplined patients might misread package labels, fail to recognize the multiple names for sugar, or be physically unable to read fine print. Signage, education and other tactics could help meet these challenges for both diabetics and the people who love them who shop for them. These are just a few concerns. There’s much work to be done, and opportunities could arise from efforts to align stores with the needs of diabetics.

A great beginning would be in-store signs and website notices that alert shoppers to the American Diabetes Association Join the Million Challenge. This month-long campaign runs through April 22 with a goal to have one million Americans take the free Diabetes Risk Test online at  

Studies have shown that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by losing seven percent of body weight, through 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, and healthy eating, ADA says, noting that African-Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and others with family history of the disease are at greater risk for Type 2. Some proactive help from supermarkets could go a long way.