Dietitian Summit Urges Creation of More Healthy-living Programs

At the third annual Dietitian Summit, co-hosted by Ahold USA and Field Trip Factory last month in Philadelphia and attended by more than 40 registered dietitians (RDs) and health-and-wellness professionals from food retailers, manufacturers, and other related organizations, key conclusions included doing more at store level to encourage Americans to eat a greater range of foods by cooking more at home and buying minimally processed products as a way to improve health and wellness.

Among the additional insights discussed at the event:

  • Supermarkets should strive to reach children at the early stages of food preference development -- ages 4 and up -- as part of a comprehensive community health-and-wellness program that includes supermarket RDs, doctors, pharmacists, fitness professionals and insurance companies, since programs teaching healthy eating early in life inculcate lifelong eating habits and are more successful than those aimed solely at adults.
  • As budget and time constraints will likely continue for the next several years, it will be a challenge for many Americans to eat better. That being the case, RDs can help customers by using encouraging and educational language emphasizing health benefits, rather than being judgmental.
  • Retailers can see greater profits by increasing programs that highlight produce as well as inexpensive, easy ways to prepare main meals and side dishes such as those that feature spices.

“It’s obvious that RDs at the retail level are firmly embedded and truly reflect a corporate commitment to a store and the community that it serves,” said Susan Singer, president and CEO of Chicago-based Field Trip Factory, which provides hands-on learning experiences for the education community, children and adults, including grocery store tours. “By developing programs that teach consumers to quickly and easily prepare meals, RDs have the opportunity to influence both retail sales and the overall well-being of Americans.”

Added Shirley Axe, health and wellness manager of Quincy, Mass.-based Ahold USA: “A key takeaway was the role that trusted grocers play in helping families make healthier choices. Stores with nutritionists deliver a high return of value because they are the perfect place to deliver relevant health and nutritional information to customers.”

Other sponsors of the 2011 summit included Cabot Creamery, Lifeway Foods, McCormick Spices, the National Milk Mustache “got milk?” campaign, PepsiCo, Unilever and Vestcom.

For information on the spring 2012 summit, contact Laura Lundin at [email protected].

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