Annual Dietitian Summit provides insight on role of RDs at retail

CHICAGO — Registered dietitians' role in retail was emphasized as health-and-wellness professionals from retailers, manufacturers and other organizations gathered for the third annual Dietitian Summit, which was held in Philadelphia last month.

The third annual invitation-only summit — co-hosted by Ahold USA and Field Trip Factory, which unites commerce and other organizations through education — underscored that grocers stress healthy food choices by utilizing RDs, which offer customers the tools to achieve optimal health.

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

The summit also noted that customers experience budget and time constraints. For RDs, this means that they have the opportunity to reach customers but must do so by utilizing encouraging, educational language when touting health benefits while not conveying judgment. This also can be done if grocers increase the use of programs that showcase produce that is presented alongside easy ways to prepare meals.

The summit also found that grocers should try to reach children ages 4 years and older, since teaching healthy eating habits early in life will give way to better eating in the future.

"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," Field Trip Factory president and CEO Susan Singer. "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."

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