Study: Healthier Supermarket Layout Improves Customers’ Food Choices

New research from the University of Southampton shows that removing confectionery and other unhealthy products from checkouts and the end of nearby aisles and placing fruit and vegetables near store entrances prompts customers to make healthier food purchases.

The study, led by Dr Christina Vogel, Principal Research Fellow in Public Health Nutrition and Janis Baird, Professor of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University’s MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Centre, was conducted in partnership with the national supermarket chain Iceland Foods Ltd. The trial took place in a selection of Iceland stores in England and monitored store sales as well as the purchasing and dietary patterns of a sample of regular customers.

The results showed store-wide confectionery sales decreased and fruit and vegetable sales increased when non-food items and water were placed at checkouts and at the end of the opposite aisles, and an expanded fruit and vegetable section was repositioned near the store entrance. Beneficial effects were also observed for household fruit and vegetable purchasing and individual dietary quality. Full details are presented in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine from 24th August 2021.

When talking about the results of the study Dr Vogel said “Altering the layouts of supermarkets could help people make healthier food choices and shift population diet towards the government’s dietary recommendations. The findings of our study suggest that a healthier store layout could lead to nearly 10,000 extra portions of fruit and vegetables and approximately 1,500 fewer portions of confectionery being sold on a weekly basis in each store.”

This research is more comprehensive than previous studies testing whether placement strategies can promote healthier food purchasing which have been limited in scope, for example including only a single location (i.e. checkouts) or placing healthy and unhealthy products together. This study went further, aiming to reduce customers exposure to calorie opportunities by placing non-food items at checkout and aisle-ends opposite and measuring effects on store sales, customer loyalty card purchasing patterns and the diets of more than one household member.

Matt Downes, Head of Format Development at Iceland said “We have been pleased to support this long-term study and the evaluation of how product placement in supermarkets can affect the diets of our customers. We know that childhood obesity is a growing issue and the retail industry has its part to play in tackling this. We hope that the outcomes of the study provide insights for the wider retail industry and policy makers about the impact of store merchandising on purchasing decisions.”

Prof Baird added “These results provide novel evidence to suggest that the intended UK government ban on prominent placement of unhealthy foods across retail outlets could be beneficial for population diet, and that effects may be further enhanced if requirements for a produce section near supermarket entrances were incorporated into the regulation.”

Source: EurekAlert!

What’s for Lunch?

Home-cooked Japanese-style Lemon Chicken Lunch

All Those Steps Every Day Could Lead to Longer Life

Denise Mann wrote . . . . . . . . .

Miami publicist Robin Diamond is “step-obsessed.”

She aims for 10,000-plus steps every day using her Apple watch and even bought a treadmill during the COVID-19 quarantine to make sure she reaches her daily goal. The 43-year-old has lost 15 pounds since April 2019 and feels better than ever before.

“Walking saved my sanity and restored my body,” she said.

Now, a new study suggests that all those steps may also add years to her life.

Folks who took about 7,000 steps a day had a 50% to 70% lower risk of dying from all causes during after 11 years of follow-up when compared with people who took fewer steps each day. These findings held for Black and white middle-aged men and women.

And quicker steps weren’t necessarily any better, the study showed. Step intensity, or the number of steps per minute, didn’t influence the risk of dying.

The study, led by Amanda Paluch, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts’ department of kinesiology, appears in the journal JAMA Network Open.

“Step-counting devices can be useful tools for monitoring and promoting activity in the general public and for patient-clinician communication, Paluch said. “Steps per day is a simple, easy-to-monitor metric and getting more steps/day may be a good way to promote health.”

She added, “7,000 steps/day may be a great goal for many individuals who are currently not achieving this amount. We also found in our study that accumulating a greater number of steps/day was associated with an incremental lower risk of mortality until leveling off at approximately 10,000 steps/day.”

Two physicians with no ties to the study looked favorably at the findings.

“This is a very nice study with a great message: “Live longer, walk more,” said Dr. Guy Mintz, Northwell Health’s director of cardiovascular health at the Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. “There’s no need to join a gym, no need to purchase equipment, just start walking.”

The research wasn’t designed to say how, or even if, taking more steps reduced the chances of dying.

But “exercise can reduce cardiovascular risk by improving blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, improvement of hyperglycemia [blood sugar] in diabetes, and contributing to weight reduction,” said Mintz.

Dr. Michael Massoomi is a big fan of step counting. He is a clinical assistant professor of medicine within the division of cardiology at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

There is no one-size-fits-all magic number, he said. “Instead of focusing on 10,000 steps per day, as many groups call for, focus on doing more than you did the day before,” he said. “If you get less than 5,000 steps a day, try to increase it to 6,000 in the next few weeks.”

This can mean adding a 20-minute walk into your daily schedule, said Massoomi.

You don’t need anything fancy or expensive to help count steps either, he said. There are many free apps for smartphones that work extremely well.

In an accompanying editorial, Nicole Spartano, a research assistant professor of medicine in endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition, and weight management at Boston University School of Medicine, pointed out that the step counter used in the new study isn’t commercially available.

“It is unclear the extent to which steps measured on these activity monitors compare with steps measured by common consumer devices, including smartwatches, pedometers and smartphone applications,” she wrote.

The new study looked at the risk of dying, but other outcomes matter, such as quality of life and mental health. “I hope to encourage investigators and research funders to focus on these understudied topics that will provide evidence to support a national step guideline,” Spartano wrote.

Source: HealthDay

Chicken in Green Almond Sauce

Ingredients

3 to 3-1/2 lb chicken, cut into serving pieces
2 cups chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cups fresh coriander, coarsely chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno chilli, seeded and chopped
l0 oz can tomatillos (Mexican green tomatoes)
1 cup ground almonds
2 tbsp corn oil
salt
fresh coriander, to garnish
rice, to serve

Method

  1. Put the chicken pieces into a flameproof casserole or shallow pan. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 45 minutes, until tender. Drain the stock into a measuring jug and set aside.
  2. Put the onion, garlic, coriander, green pepper, chili, tomatillos with their juice and the almonds in a food processor. Puree fairly coarsely.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the almond mixture and cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes. Scrape into the casserole or pan with the chicken.
  4. Make the stock up to 2 cups with water, if necessary. Stir it into the casserole or pan. Mix gently and simmer just long enough to blend the flavours and heat the chicken pieces through. Add salt to taste. Serve at once, garnished with coriander and accompanied by rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Source: Classic Mexican


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