Solving Obesity……Do I Hear Food Retailers?

HealthGal Health Guide
  • We’ve indicted the following as partial contributors or contributing factors to the child obesity crisis:

    • Parents
    • Schools for lack of P.E., poor nutrition in the lunchroom
    • Vending machine offerings
    • Manufacturers who make the food we “can’t pass up and tend to over-eat”
    • Restaurants and fast food outlets who provide cheap, poor quality food in huge portion sizes
    • Advertisers who make us yearn for sweets and treats
    • Beverage makers who flood the market with high calorie, sweet drinks
    • Costly gyms and fitness equipment
    • Pediatricians and doctors who don’t or won’t have “the discussion” about weight
    • People in denial, with regards to their eating and exercise habits, and size measurements
    • Government, national and local, who are not spending enough on creating communities that are safe for outdoor activity and affordable and accessible programs that help with prevention and management of obesity.

    Those are probably the more prominent A-listers often cited in the discussion that revolves around what are the causes of current childhood obesity trends.   Recent research by Nancy Childs, Ph.D., professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, focuses on food retailers as another sector which may be instigating poor eating habits, especially among children.  In an interview conducted by Newswise, Dr. Child suggests that retailers have been “off the radar,” despite their potential to help mitigate the obesity crisis. 

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    Supermarkets could have an in-store nutritionist or dietician who circulates and answers questions, offer shopping tours that highlight healthier food, offer healthy product sampling and discounts, and use creative displays and activities to encourage the purchase of produce and less processed food products.  They could also re-think the food displays that frequent the cashier and checkout areas, which are typically high calorie candies and pastries.  Putting bananas, individually wrapped apples or pears, individual size nut packs and healthier nutrition bars could be the new “impulse purchase” at the check out line.


    Parents have a role in the retail environment as well.  Have you ever considered that if you spend a bit more time in the supermarket with your kids, as a planned fun experience, you could create meaningful lessons while having fun with your kids?  Math lessons can happen when you allow your kids to weigh out produce and count items in the shopping cart.  Color lessons can easily happen in the produce section as well.  Have a picky eater?  The vegetable and fruit section often has a policy of allowing you to taste test before filling bags.  Kids love taste-testing, especially if there is a blindfold involved!  Spelling lessons can easily occur when you allow a child to label read or search for certain items.  Child-oriented nutrition education can happen without pressure when you taste, weigh and examine items in a setting like a supermarket.  A movie doesn’t have to be your immediate go to option when it rains; an hour or two in the supermarket can be a special treat as well.


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    Dr. Childs calls it “retailtainment” and believes that a store that caters to the health needs of kids, will win over parents as long standing, loyal customers.  What do you think??


    (Some information sourced from – Food Retailers: the Solution to Childhood Obesity, November 30, 2012)

Published On: December 14, 2012