Is Walmart the Solution to Creating a Healthy Diet for Americans?

| 1/24/2011 4:40:18 PM

Walmart is already known for its low prices. Now, as part of a collaboration with first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, Walmart has promised to make its food healthier and to make fresh, healthy foods more affordable.  

grocery produce aisleMaking Healthy Food Choices Easier

To begin with, Walmart has identified processed products put out by their house brand that can potentially be reformulated to be healthier. Some specific goals: reduce the sodium in deli meats 25 percent, and lessen added sugars in fruits drinks and dairy items 10 percent by the year 2015.  

If the reformulations are adopted by the entire grocery industry, adults in the U.S. will consume approximately 47 million fewer pounds of sodium each year,” said Andrea Thomas, a senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart.  

This is a big step forward for the largest grocery chain in America — a calculation by a University of North Carolina Greensboro economics professor estimated that for every Walmart that opened per 100,000 residents, the obesity rate increased by 2.3 percentage points. 

The general idea: Walmart is just so big and receives so much traffic, the implications of these changes will result in more Americans buying fresh fruits and vegetables. The store will use its weight to shift prices down and encourage their customers to start eating healthy diets.  

How to Eat Better: Is It All Dollars and Cents?

A debate room hosted by New York Times asks, “Can Walmart make us healthier?” Several panelists have weighed in, with some interesting takes on what Walmart’s move means for the general public. Just because foods are cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean people will buy them — and there is a great risk that people will buy, and eat, more food if it is affordable and labeled “low-fat.” Katie Bauer with the Minnesota Obesity Prevention Training Program, explains: 

2/2/2011 6:27:10 PM

I'm very skeptical about Walmart's motives in selling healthy food. Locavore consumers have been increasing for years and are a now a significant demographic. I'm concerned that Walmart will corner this market with artificially low prices and the convenience of one stop shopping that local food producers won't be able to compete with.

2/2/2011 6:06:55 PM

Even if Walmart does change food items to reduce sodium and sugar, Americans will remain obese and unhealthy. Its not about changing junky convenient foods, its about changing our eating habits. The problem with the american diet is that we like everything fast and tend to opt for chemical ingredients vs. the good wholesome food God provided. If the majority of americans would actually take time to prepare food from scratch, we would be seeing less health issues and less overweight people.

2/2/2011 5:00:43 PM

I think Wal-mart is stepping forward and doing the right thing. For as many people who shop there, I think changing their food offering is going to educate more Americans than not. Not all of us can shop at Whole Foods, or even have one near us. It would be nice if we all could avoid the GMO's and shop responsibly, but when it comes down to feeding your children healthy food, I think we are doing good by having one of the biggest grocery stores change their offering instead of trying to reinvent the wheel all the way. Rome wasn't built in a day, we still need to educate.

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