OPEN UP AND SAY 'WAL-MART'

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The world's largest retailer is becoming the world's largest family physician as well. Wal-Mart Stores here this year renewed three complementary health screening and preventative care programs. The company last week distributed 4.8 million free copies of a health and wellness book for women; in September, it offered customers a complementary diabetes screening valued at $75;

BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The world's largest retailer is becoming the world's largest family physician as well. Wal-Mart Stores here this year renewed three complementary health screening and preventative care programs. The company last week distributed 4.8 million free copies of a health and wellness book for women; in September, it offered customers a complementary diabetes screening valued at $75; and in February, it offered free cholesterol and blood pressure tests in conjunction with national "Heart Health Month."

The events are made possible through partnerships with national organizations like the Speaking of Women's Health Foundation, which provided the free copies of its book, "Recipes for Living Well," and companies like Polymer Technology Systems, Indianapolis, which provides screening equipment.

"We feel these events and partnerships provide our shoppers and associates information that will have a positive impact on their lives and the lives of their families," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher told WH.

In an effort to position its pharmacy department as a consumer resource, the company has also expanded the selection of health-related articles on www.walmart.com. Noting that 60% of women ages 18 to 59 are concerned about women's health issues but feel that there is an "overload" of information on the topic, the pharmacy section of the site partners with Speaking of Women's Health to provide simple tips for preventing or coping with conditions, such as osteoporosis and breast cancer.

Similarly, through its online "Diabetes Center," the company offers information on diabetes awareness, prevention and management, and allows customers to order diabetic medical supplies.

"With the rising obesity epidemic, diabetes awareness becomes even more critical. We have an opportunity to communicate the seriousness of diabetes to the millions of customers who visit our stores every week," Frank Segrave, vice president, Wal-Mart's pharmacy division, said in a news release.