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Health Efforts Now Go Deeper With Broader Reach

Health Efforts Now Go Deeper With Broader Reach

The recession has killed off a lot of things — profligate spending, eating out, retirement. But one clear survivor has been health and wellness.

For many retailers and consumers, health is not a fad but a commitment, even if cash-pressed shoppers are making trade-offs among healthy alternatives. This issue of SN focuses on the health and wellness trend with stories in each section.

The consumer's commitment to health has been fueled by initiatives from many quarters, including suppliers, retailers, government, associations and academia. Health initiatives now have broader reach and deeper impact.

Broader reach refers to the ubiquity of efforts. Take a look at the health and wellness section of SN's website. There are more articles than ever on retailer activity, including those on Bashas' hosting gluten-free tasting events, Wegmans holding an “Eat Well Live Well” challenge for associates, and Dorothy Lane offering a cancer-prevention and survival cooking class.

In these profiles, you'll see the directions taken by eight companies whose top executives are considered leaders in health efforts. Most striking is the variety of priorities, proof that the industry isn't just marching in step.

Some top executives are using their clout to influence the health care reform debate in Washington. A few are pointing to their own company insurance plans as models for wider adoption. Most are integrating stores and pharmacies for complete wellness offerings.

And just as important, there is broader distribution of health information, especially via the Internet. Among recent cases, the Guiding Stars nutrition system has partnered to offer its rating information on the iPhone, and CVS Caremark has a partnership that enables shoppers to securely download their prescription and medication histories to a Google Health Account.

Health initiatives aren't just getting broader play, but also going deeper. The development of nutrition rating systems and healthy food lists has been a good example of this. A new list of “Super Green” seafood launched by Monterey Bay Aquarium spotlights species that are good for both human and ocean health.

Other examples of deeper initiatives involve expanded retailer focuses on specific disease-states. One SN article outlines Ukrop's efforts to battle diabetes, while another story details retailer activities to help attack heart disease.

What's ahead? Health efforts will continue to go broader and deeper, but also become more targeted. Safeway's FoodFlex program provides a window on this. This online tool enables club-card shoppers to view their purchases, check nutrition information, find healthier food options in various categories, and develop a shopping list for specific goals.

Years from now, it's possible that buying behavior, nutrition goals, medical history and genomics all will be factored into supermarket data to produce super-targeted profiles, education and offers for each shopper. We're probably quite a distance from that day, but maybe not as far as we think.

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