BOULDER, Colo. -- Wild Oats Markets is thinking big when it comes to obesity education.
For the past two years, the natural/organic food retailer has sponsored an aggressive campaign aimed at propagating health information that relates to the U.S. obesity epidemic.
In January, Wild Oats launched a chainwide Superfoods program. This program educates consumers, young and old, on what foods qualify as Superfoods and how they are important in combating obesity, said Kristi Estes, spokeswoman.
"We use public relations and advertising tactics, but one of our most important tactics is in-store education," she pointed out. "For Superfoods, we labeled all of the Superfoods throughout the store and created shopping lists that made it easier for customers to find the foods we were educating them about."
The chain then turned its attention to helping prevent childhood obesity in several of its local markets through its unique pedometer program, "America on the Move." The program was the brainchild of Wild Oats, but was accomplished through strong partnerships with area school districts.
"Our America on the Move program was created to teach school children how to get in more steps and to eat better foods to combat obesity," said Estes. "We even donated pedometers to a nearby school when we opened our Superior store. As part of our opening, the kids joined us for a walk from their school to our store."
Aside from its obesity programs, Wild Oats hosts a number of school field trips that are focused on healthy eating. The "Field Trip Factory" program enables school children to tour a local store. At the store, a chain representative teaches the children about the importance of proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
According to Estes, Wild Oats believes that educating consumers about obesity and creating an environment that is conducive to fighting the widespread trend is the responsibility of the chain, as well as members of the food industry. However, incorporating in-store programs and marketing campaigns directed at childhood obesity may not be as much of a stretch for Wild Oats as it is for other chains.
"Wild Oats has always been much more than a store that just sells food," she said. "We've always tried to be an informative source on all nutritional subjects. That translates into such issues as obesity. Our customers seem hungry for knowledge on issues like this, and they look to us for information on the topic."
The response to Wild Oats' obesity and nutritional programs has been overwhelming, revealed Estes. The chain has received ample feedback from shoppers praising its program creators for their dedication to the community. Many consumers have requested additional events that touch on the obesity issue, she added.