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Foods in prominent supermarket locations feed unhealthy choices, researchers say

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK — An article recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine examines the role that impulse marketing and customer psychology in supermarkets contributes to obesity and related health problems.

The Oct. 11 article, written by the Rand Corp.’s Deborah Cohen and University of California Los Angeles researcher Susan Babey and titled "Candy at the Cash Register — A Risk Factor for Obesity and Chronic Disease," discusses the role of placement and display of products in retail outlets, noting that goods placed in end-of-aisle locations account for about 30% of all supermarket sales.

"Our reluctance to interfere with or regulate the food environment is a direct consequence of the belief that people’s food choices reflect their true desires," Cohen and Babey wrote. "However, given the large proportion of people who claim that they want to lose weight and the small proportion who are actually able to do so, we must concede that human behavior doesn’t always conform with professed goals."

According to the authors, people who may try to make healthy choices can find their ability to resist foods that are palatable but high in fat and sugar placed in prominent locations like near the cash register diminished if they’re distracted, stressed or have made decisions that "deplete their cognitive capacity." This can cause mental processes that increase their likelihood of purchasing unhealthy foods that are convenient and eye-catching.

The authors suggested new approaches to risk reduction that don’t place additional cognitive demands on people, such as limiting the types of foods that are displayed in prominent locations and making unhealthy foods harder to find.

But some retailers have already done this, as reported in Drug Store News. In 2011, Hy-Vee introduced "Blue Zones" checkout lanes that replace sugary and fatty foods with healthy ones like fresh fruits and healthy snacks. In August 2012, Ahold banner Giant-Carlisle installed healthy-food checkout lanes in eight Martin’s Food Markets stores in the Richmond, Va., area. The Martin’s lanes include fruit, nuts, snack packs, nutrition bars and fruit juice.

 

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CDC study finds more Americans consuming diet drinks than in 2000

BY Melissa Valliant

Today’s Americans are drinking significantly more diet drinks than they were a decade ago, according to a new study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers found that roughly one-fifth of the U.S. population is sipping on diet drinks, such as calorie-free and low-calorie versions of soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and carbonated water. While about 17.8% of women and 13.9% of men drank diet drinks back in 2000, 21.2% of women and 19% of women are drinking them now.

Gender didn’t make much of a difference when it came to diet drink consumption, except in the age group of 12- to 19-year-olds; in this group of adolescents, women drank significantly more diet drinks than men.

The study found that ethnicity and income played a role in determining who chose diet beverages. Non-Hispanic whites drank more diet drinks than non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics; and the higher Americans’ income, the more diet drinks they consumed.

This data corresponds to recent data that found that Americans are drinking fewer sugary drinks than they used to. In 2000, people were consuming 150 calories a day from the sugar in soda; that figure dropped to 91 calories a day in 2008.

The CDC’s new statistics are based on in-person interviews with thousands of people in the "National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey."

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DiGiorno launches two product lines

BY Allison Cerra

NORTHBROOK, Ill. — DiGiorno is looking to deliver pizza in new ways with the launch of new pizza dipping strips and Italian Style Favorites pizza.

DiGiorno pizza dipping strips, available in pepperoni, three meat and four cheese varieties, feature the combination of a DiGiorno thick crust pizza, in twelve easy pull-apart strips and two dipping sauces: marinara and garlic.

Meanwhile, the DiGiorno Italian Style Favorites pizza line is a collection of three Italian-inspired, premium varieties on a rising crust with a touch of olive oil and herbs. The pizzas are available in meatball marinara, chicken parmesan, and meat trio varieties.

Both lines are available in stores’ freezer section for a suggested retail price of $7.39.

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