Retailers have crafted all sorts of creative programs to get kids moving and eating healthier. Fresh & Easy has its own kids’ private label line, Goodness, which hasn’t been out for long and is already slotted for expansion. Whole Foods has pledged to build salad bars in schools across the country. Many other supermarkets offer scavenger hunts, school tours and interactive games designed to really engage kids.
Go ahead and add Giant and Martin’s supermarkets to the list. Parent company Ahold has announced the launch of a web-based program called Passport to Nutrition that offers games, songs, lessons and other tools aimed at informing kids and encouraging them to eat healthier.
“Childhood obesity has become a growing health issue and it’s important for both kids and their parents to understand what they can do to eat healthy and maintain an active lifestyle,” said Shirley Axe, health and wellness manager for Ahold.
Indeed it is. And while songs like “Gotta Get Your Whole Grains!” won’t make it to the Billboard top 100 anytime soon, they’re a good way to get across those important messages that every parent struggles with.
The sad fact, of course, is that the problems Passport to Nutrition and other programs confront are much more serious than any games or mascots or catchy tunes. An estimated 17% of children aged 2 to 19 are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Overcoming this has now become a national priority, with the Obama administration funding programs like Let’s Move and reforming school lunches through legislation.
It’s also a fact that for every healthy game or interactive program out there, there are far more unhealthy marketing messages — and many of them show up on products in the supermarket. Truly ambitious retailers need to consider this fact, and think about what else they can do to confront this health crisis.