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Commissaries to Debut Health-oriented Shelf Signs

FORT LEE, Va. -- The Defense Commissary Agency here is introducing a series of shelf signs featuring dietary tips, in time to meet shoppers New Year's resolutions to lose weight and eat healthier.

The signs are part of the retail organization's ongoing "It's Your Choice, Make it Healthy" campaign.

"We want to be the nutritional leader of the military community," said Patrick B. Nixon, c.e.o. and acting director of DeCA, in a statement. "Commissaries offer health and wellness products, fresh produce, lean meats, and much more -- all at cost. And one of the best ways to lose weight and eat healthy is to know what's in the products you're buying. You can't always do that in restaurants or the fast food drive-thru, but you can do it by reading labels at the commissary."

The dietary tips, based on the new "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" from the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, are located where customers will find pizza and frozen entrees, juice, dairy, canned vegetables and fruits, oils and fats, cereals, bread, pasta, rice, canned meats, snack foods, and dairy. A generic tip tells customers what "daily value" means on product labels.

"We're not trying to tell people what is good or bad for them," Nixon said. "We're just offering some 'food for thought' while they shop. And since we are very concerned about food safety, customers will also see tips on food handling, preparation, and storage."

DeCA collaborated on the shelf signs with a Defense Department weight management integrated project team of dieticians, including representatives from the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Environmental Health Center, the Air Force Medical Service, and the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine.

"It's Your Choice, Make it Healthy" ties in with "Healthy Choices for Life," an awareness campaign established by TRICARE, the U.S. Department of Defense's military health system.

"Tobacco, alcohol, and obesity-related issues are leading causes of preventable death in the United States," said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "Preventing these unhealthy behaviors is critical to the readiness of our forces and the health of our nation as a whole."

DeCA's partnership with TRICARE and the medical and nutrition community is intended to encourage military families to think more about using their commissary as a resource to help win the battle of the bulge, according to Nixon. "Commissaries and medical benefits are consistently listed as the top military benefits," he said. "Since we serve the same customer base, it makes sense to partner in our outreach efforts, both as an agency -- and at the installation level."

DeCA is encouraging store directors at all 268 commissaries worldwide to forge partnerships with health and wellness professionals for commissary tours and health and wellness events, particularly during National Nutrition Month in March and Commissary Awareness Month in May. "The shelf signs will make ideal tour stops," Nixon said.

The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees, and their families.
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