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Hy-Vee Takes On Weight Watchers

With more than 150 dietitians across its chain of 220 supermarkets, Hy-Vee has the unique ability to work with customers individually, developing nutrition plans and then tracking their progress. This sort of service builds deep roots in communities, and it gives the company the flexibility to develop umbrella programs that further strengthen the brand.

Back in 2008, for instance, Hy-Vee unveiled a 10-week weight loss program called “Begin” that built a tailored meal and exercise program for customers. For around $100, they’d meet with their local store dietitian, develop the plan, and then attend weekly check-ins to track their progress and learn helpful tips.

Now Hy-Vee is evolving the format into a system modeled after Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. “Fast, Fit, Food”, as reported in Iowa’s Quad City Business Journal, is a program being piloted in several stores that gives customers pre-set amounts of food each week, with an emphasis on fresh and frozen choices. Those interested can choose to pay for just the food, or for an extra $60 they can attend weekly weigh-ins and classes to support their efforts. The company calls it a “fool-proof weight loss program”, and participants are reportedly losing an average of two pounds per week.

Whether or not the program is successful, it acknowledges a key fact — that when it comes to dieting, convenience is key. Weight loss systems factor out the guesswork and guarantee results if you play by the rules. That’s comforting to a lot of people.

And given the popularity of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and others, why shouldn’t supermarkets be able to do it? They might not all have the dietitian firepower that Hy-Vee has, but they can just as easily offer all the information online. Got a question? Ask it on the dedicated Facebook page, or email a company dietitian.

The biggest obstacle might be the name. “The Kroger Diet” or “The Supervalu Diet” isn’t very sexy. That’s one for the marketing department.