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More registered dietitians engaging consumers in the aisles. Are personal trainers next?

BY Michael Johnsen

One-third of supermarkets have a dietitian walking their aisles, according to a recent report published by Advertising Age. And almost 9-in-10 grocers have a dietitian housed in their corporate suites. 

Is it any wonder? There’s a natural synergy between pharmacy and food stores that grocers have been looking to tap in one form or another over the past decade. But now, especially as health systems and large employers become more savvy around the benefits a healthier workforce will have to their bottom lines, this is likely to transform from a supermarket patient’s best-kept-secret into a must-have service. 

Because if the doctor tells a hypertensive they need to cut the salt out of their diets, what better resource for more information than a pharmacist in a retail food outlet? They can help manage the disease state — hypertension, diabetes — while their resident dietitian handles the healthier diet portion of the better health plan.

Publix just last month announced a pilot featuring paid consultations with a registered dietitian. Leading that program is University of Florida alumnus Jamie Stolarz, a licensed registered dietitian and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Florida Dietetic Association and Tampa Dietetic Association.  

If anyone ever figures out how to fold a gym and personal trainer into the supermarket setting, they’ll have the perfect trifecta of healthcare and lifestyle solutions. 

Sound far-fetched? Maybe not. Earlier this month, Texas-based H-E-B awarded $18,000 to contestants participating in the grocer’s annual H-E-B Slim Down Showdown. Contestants are not only schooled on better eating as part of the program, but better fitness, too. The result: The 25 contestants in this year’s showdown lost more than 700 pounds, collectively.

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Amazon’s health and wellness bid a forward-looking strategy

BY Michael Johnsen

Amazon.com created a virtual health and wellness depot with the launch of its new 50+ Active and Healthy Living Store. With this online destination, Amazon will be targeting the caregiver sweet spot — that sandwich generation who are likely to simultaneously care for their baby boomer parents even as they raise their Gen Y children. 

But are consumers really shopping health online? Or, more important, are they buying health online?

The wisdom over the past few years has suggested that consumers satisfy their acute care needs with a sense of immediacy. In other words, if they’ve got the sniffles, it’s time to drop by the retail pharmacy on the way home from work to stock up on tissues, cold and/or allergy medicine, and sanitizer. Waiting a day or two for those items to be shipped out of the warehouse just really isn’t intuitive. Colds, pain, upset stomachs and diarrhea — consumers are not likely to wait for relief from their postman. 

Sales of pain relievers and cough-cold solutions that treat an acute need account for 30.3% of all OTC medicines sold through mass outlets, according to IRi data for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 27, representing $11.6 billion in sales. But vitamins, diet aids and digestives — which may represent more chronic needs for which Amazon’s subscription service "Subscribe & Save" would become a differentiated convenience — account for more than 43% of all OTC medicines sold and represent $16.6 billion in sales. 

That suggests Amazon.com could be onto something, if consumers were prone to shop OTCs online. They’re not, necessarily. At least not yet. According to AccentHealth VP market research, Natalie Hill, "When it comes to medical treatment, healthcare professionals remain the most trusted source for information. Of those viewers using smart devices in-store, only 16% report doing so to investigate Rxs or OTCs." According to DSN’s regular feature Patient Views, which taps into AccentHealth’s consumer survey capabilities, consumers using mobile devices in-store are most often in search of savings, with the majority (91%) comparing prices online or at other stores while shopping.

When it comes to medical treatment, healthcare professionals remain the most trusted source for information — 31% of AccentHealth viewers cited their healthcare professional as their source of information on OTCs. Online research isn’t too far behind those health professionals, however — 20% of those surveyed researched their OTC solutions online prior to purchase. 

The caveat, of course, is the steady adoption of mobile technology tools to enhance the shopping experience. By the time Gen Y hits that target demographic of 50 years and older, the likelihood that 4-in-5 shoppers will research OTCs online before they purchase, as opposed to the 1-in-5 today, is pretty high. 

That not only suggests Amazon.com is expanding in this direction with an eye to the future, but also suggests that more traditional brick-and-click retailers are going to have to make omnichannel retailing a core focus if they’re going to maintain any kind of competitive offering.  

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Meal Measure looks to curb oversize portions

BY Jason Owen

BURNSVILLE, Minn. — A new product from Apothecary Products that has been featured on "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Today Show" is hoping to remove the guesswork of proper food portions when cooking a meal at home.

The Meal Measure Portion Control Plate works by placing the compartmentalized measurer directly on a plate. There are four portion-controlled cavities: two for fruits or vegetables, one for starches and one for protein. The food cavities are in accordance with MyPlate.gov guidelines for healthy portions and easily denote half- and full-cup portion sizes, as well as the recommended size of a protein serving — about the size of a deck of cards, according to Apothecary. The consumer can then fill the Meal Measure with the appropriate amount of food in accordance with their diet.

According to the company, portion control is one of the best ways to fight obesity, which can cause heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

The Meal Measure was created by a working mom and former lunch room attendant. It is BPA-free and recyclable, and is manufactured in the United States with a SRP of $12.99.


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