How grocery stores can help consumers make healthy choices – Food Tank
Healthy Eating Research (HER) recently published research that aims to understand which strategies best increase consumer demand for healthier products. The report, A National Research Agenda to Support Health Eating Through Retail Strategies, highlights ways to encourage better health through food choices. HER also published a press review to accompany the report, which appears in a special issue of International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research.
âFood retailing is a key framework that influences the diet and health of children and families. Yet the safety of food and drink available in retail food stores differs significantly in the United States, âKirsten Arm, MPH, RDN, research analyst at HER told Food Tank. âThis is an area where industry has a big role to play in improving the availability, accessibility and affordability of healthier products that meet nutritional recommendations. “
The research agenda report defines key research questions and areas for future research. And the nine articles in the journal’s special issue examine the importance of researching strategies that promote healthy eating. Both help describe the next steps in finding and implementing healthier grocery habits.
HER, a United States national research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), identified the need for a national research program in 2010. This was done in collaboration with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and The Food Trust.
The research program report âuncovers 10 key areas that have become priorities for future research: five focus on understanding the current food retail environment and consumer behavior, and five focus on understanding the current food retail environment and consumer behavior. on evaluating the implementation and effectiveness of interventions and policies, âsays Arm.
These include understanding the food retail environment, consumer buying behaviors, targeted food marketing, and food retail design provisions. Areas of assessment included operating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), limiting unhealthy eating establishments, and addressing social determinants of health.
One of the articles in this series, âRetailing Healthy Food During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Future Directions,â highlights societal change in grocery shopping. It notes the nationwide increase in home food preparation, online grocery ordering, reliance on charitable food distribution, and reductions in food supply chains.
âBy using a model to describe the impact of the pandemic, the authors were able to identify potential strategies to help create a more equitable retail food environment,â Arm told Food Tank.
These approaches include centering underfunded community members, addressing accessibility issues for SNAP and Special Supplementary Nutrition for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) beneficiaries, understanding health behaviors. ‘consumer online shopping and the role of online marketing, and the support of sustainable and diverse businesses. models.
Two HER research teams also analyzed the effectiveness of government policies and in-store pilot projects to promote healthy eating already in place. They find that increased access to healthy food products and the use of financial incentives for fruits and vegetables improve eating behaviors. In addition, the researchers note that promotions such as direct labels and food samples, as well as the taxation of sugary drinks are also successful.
HER hopes that by showing effective initiatives and highlighting areas for new retail research and interventions, more collaborative relationships and partnerships will develop between retailers and researchers.
“Improving the food environment in retail through [policy, systems, and environment] strategies is a piece of the puzzle with the long-term goal of ensuring that all children, especially low-income population groups and racial and ethnic minorities, have equitable access to healthy food, âArm said at Food Tank.