Obesity Epidemic: Supermarkets are Making it Easier to Eat Healthy


All you need to do is turn on the news to hear about the obesity epidemic in our country.  The national statistics are staggering and it isn’t just our children that are in danger.  In 2010, the CDC found that one-third of the adults in this country can be classified as obese based on their Body Mass Index (BMI).  The reality of this statistic is that one in three American adults now has a higher risk of developing a wide range of serious health problems than their peers.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) obesity has been linked to increased rates of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout, sleep apnea, and liver problems.  Obesity has also been linked to an increased risk for certain types of cancer.  Obese men are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the colon, rectum, and prostate and obese women are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer of the gallbladder, uterus, cervix, or ovaries.

Here in Arizona, the stats from the CDC aren’t much better.  In 2009, the state crossed the 25% threshold which is an increase of more than 15% in barely 20 years.  The rate at which the percentage of the population that is obese is increasing is even more shocking.  In 1989, Arizona’s adult obesity rate crossed the 10% threshold into the 10-14% range where it stayed for more than 10 years.  In 2000, the rate moved up to the 15-19% but it remained there for only 3 years before moving into the 20-24% range in 2004.  In 2007, the obesity rate crossed into the 25-29% range for the first time and it has been riding the 24-25% line ever since.  These figures show that the rate over the past 10 years is increasing almost 3 times as fast as it during the previous 10 years.

As we head into March, which is National Nutrition Month, helping people find ways to eat healthier is on everyone’s minds.  A recent FoodieCast from the American Farm Bureau about Supermarket Trends talks about what the Shoppers Supermarket chain is doing to help their customers make better-for-you food choices.  Last year the company launched Nutrition IQ which is an in-store, color-coded nutritional navigation program.  By using visual cues to indicate the better-for-you choices on the shelves, the chain is making it easier for shoppers to find and select the healthier version of foods they eat every day.

These kinds of programs, which are available at several supermarket chains, also help dispel the myth that healthy food is more expensive.  By incorporating the nutritional tags or labels into the regular product displays, supermarkets make it easy for shoppers to see that healthy options and better-for-you choices are all around them.  Here in Arizona, you can find similar programs at:

  • Albertson’s, which uses the Nutrition IQ program
  • Basha’s which has their own program called Nutrition Tags
  • Safeway, which provides the Simple Nutrition program

This month, regardless of your BMI, take the opportunity to look at how you are eating and see if there are changes you can make.  Refocusing on our nutritional needs and paying attention to what we are putting into our bodies is the best thing we can do to safeguard our health now and for the rest of our lives.

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