Obesity & the Role of Supermarkets

The Lempert Report
December 31, 2013

As we look ahead to 2014, I believe everyone in our industry should be focused on one New Years’ Resolution: combatting obesity.

According to the Food Marketing Institute, the American shopper visits its members’ stores on average 1.6 times per week. Sixty-six percent of Americans are now obese or overweight as are 33% of kids aged 6 to 16. Many retailers are doing well to promote health and wellness, but clearly there is more work to be done.

A lesson to be learnt from Weight Watchers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, is that success is built on community. It is with this in mind that Supermarkets can too become a central place for health & wellness.

As more supermarkets continue to add registered retail dietitians to their ranks, we are hearing about the successful results from store tours, cooking classes, samplings of good-for-you foods and beverages, social media efforts and publicity. As an industry we need to support their efforts; these RDs are not only the “face” of the store to an important shopper, but also are unique to supermarkets (so far) and can offer your stores something that other food retailers are not.

The Southeastern Conference, made of 14 research-heavy Southern universities, is focusing their 2014 Symposium on Obesity prevention. According to the executive director, “Obesity will be discussed with a focus on prevention versus treatment. The holistic approach to obesity prevention through diet, as well as awareness on a community, faith-based, and government level will be addressed.”

Supermarkets may well be able to learn from the findings of this symposium and help create a new retail environment. Supermarkets are an integral part of people’s lives, so who better to be at the center of the health and wellness community.