IMF Releases “Food as a Medical Opportunity in Food Retail” report

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As supermarkets evolve as a health and wellness destination, IMF – Food Industry Association and the Foundation of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have published “The suitability of food as a medicine in food retail“, a report that describes business opportunities for food retailers to embrace the concept of” Food as Medicine “.

Over the past year, half of grocery retailers have significantly or moderately increased their health and wellness programs as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of overall wellness.

While they don’t specifically label them as drug-as-drug efforts, the latest IMF report found that grocery retailers prioritize programs for customers and employees that align with the definition of the drug. food as medicine. IMF supports the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics scientific definition of food as medicine, which states:

Food as Medicine is a philosophy that food and nutrition help people through interventions that support health and wellness. Areas of intervention include: diet as preventive medicine to promote health and well-being; food as medicine in the management and treatment of disease; food as medicine to improve nutritional security; and food as medicine to promote food safety. Food as medicine is a reaffirmation that diet and nutrition play a role in maintaining health, preventing disease and as therapy for people with ailments or in sensitive situations. to changes in their diet.

“At a time when consumers are increasingly interested in improving their health and well-being through food, it is appropriate to talk about the role of food in the context of medicine, because food can help prevent disease and promote health, manage chronic disease, improve nutritional security and just feed, ”said Krystal Register, MS, RDN, LDN, FAND, director of health and welfare for the IMF.

The report highlights five program models that grocery retailers could use to support specific initiatives and collect and communicate metrics to stakeholders. The combination of program models demonstrates improved outcomes including positive health outcomes and return on investment for retail operations. The recommendations also note the importance of establishing credible messages and programs with an emphasis on connecting with grocery shoppers through science, prevention and universal communications.

“Grocery retailers are established as trusted partners in a customer’s buying journey, providing multiple points of contact and interactions. with customers – from store to online, ”said Allison Yoder, MA, RDN, LD, the Academy Foundation Fellow in the development of nutrition programs in food retailing. “Dietitians and nutritionists can help retailers meet the nutritional needs of their customers. As the Food and nutrition experts, RDNs understand the important role that nutrition plays in overall health.

The Foundation’s Nutrition in Food Retail Development Fellowship program will soon release a resource to help dietitians and food retailers evaluate their Food as Medicine initiatives.

The vital role that diet plays in overall health is even recognized by health care providers. To help improve nutrition and food insecurity, Clover Health added groceries to its perks on August 1. Eligible Clover Health members who meet certain criteria, including underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable, will be eligible to receive up to $ 125 in quarterly allowance. which can be used at participating retailers to purchase food, non-alcoholic beverages, and other over-the-counter items like vitamins and ibuprofen.

Arlington, Virginia.based IMF works with and on behalf of the entire industry to advance a safer, healthier and more efficient food supply chain.IMF brings together a wide range of members across the value chain – from retailers who sell to consumers, to producers who provide food and other products, as well as the wide variety of businesses providing essential services – to amplify the collective work of industry. Also available from IMF is its Power of health and wellnessg report that examines emerging trends in consumer health and wellness and sets the stage for future innovation.


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