Tags: grocery | healthy | shopper

What’s Your Healthy Shopping IQ?

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:43 AM

Are you a savvy shopper when it comes to choosing healthy groceries? Arizona researchers who conducted a survey of more than 150 supermarket shoppers found nearly all benefited from a brief 10-minute nutritional counseling session before hitting the aisles.
The short session helped even the most savvy shoppers make smarter choices about heart-healthy foods and understand nutrition labels better and avoid high-sodium items, said the researchers from Arizona State University and University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, suggests in-person supermarket education efforts – offered by a growing number of grocery stories – could significantly contribute to more healthy food purchases.
"Previous point of purchase supermarket interventions, price discounts, advertisements, coupons, recipe fliers, store signage, and food demonstrations have had modest effects on food purchasing patterns,” said lead researcher Dr. Brandy-Joe Milliron. “Therefore, we sought to test the effect of a point of purchase intervention with in-person counseling from a nutrition educator on food purchasing patterns.
“Food purchasing patterns are predictive of actual dietary intake, and even the modest effects from our study could translate into meaningful health benefits if sustained long term."
For the study, shoppers were given brief instructions on how to choose healthy food items and use “nutrition scores” -- shelf signs some grocers use to emphasize foods that meet American Heart Association guidelines. They include “heart healthy” foods -- nonfat and low-fat dairy products, leaner beef and pork, vegetable oil, and other sources of healthy fats -- and “immune booster” items -- fruit and vegetables, especially dark-green, orange, red, and yellow ones.
After the study participants finished grocery shopping, the investigators assessed their shopping basket for total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, fruit, vegetables, and dark green and bright-yellow vegetables. They found that in-person counseling resulted in greater purchasing of healthful food items.
Among shopping experts’ advice:
• Check nutrition labels for calorie, fat, sugar and sodium levels of any processed foods you buy.
• Shop the perimeter of the store – where produce and fresh foods are typically shelved -- and avoid center isles, where more packaged foods are sold.
• Be wary of items placed at eye level or near checkout lines, where less nutritious foods are often placed to snag impulse buyers.
• Look for “nutritional scores” placed by some supermarkets right on the shelf's price label for a food item to indicate a particular item’s health value – such as “healthier option” or “immune booster” or “heart healthy.”
"The bottom line, encouraging the feasibility of supermarket interventions, such as that in our study, assists shoppers in choosing healthful options," said the investigators.

© HealthDay

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Spending a few minutes with a nutritional counselor can boost your shopping savvy at the supermarket.
Wednesday, 09 May 2012 11:43 AM
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