Yesterday, Walmart announced an initiative to improve the nutrition of the food they carry while lessening its environmental impact. This is just one more announcement in a series of big name brands waking up to the dual global crises of health and the environment, and responding with corporate action.
Walmart's goal is to help the environment as well as the health of their consumers, and they’ve established four “pillars” to help them achieve that goal:
- Reducing the true cost of food, both for the environment and for consumers
- Increasing access to affordable, nutritious food for everyone
- Make healthy eating easier by providing healthier options and committing to nutrition education
- Increasing transparency in the food supply system
That all sounds like good stuff to us! This type of program is especially important given that low-income Americans, who often shop at Walmart and similar stores, have higher rates of obesity than other groups. If Walmart and other stores can truly health-ify their foods and provide legitimate health education to consumers who need it, this could be an important first step toward combatting a grave issue.
Of course, this raises the question of what, exactly, “healthy” means to the company (they’ve already made great strides in reducing sodium and sugar in many products, which is promising) and how consumers will respond to these new products. Will they buy food items labeled with the new “Great for You” icon, or will they want to stick to the familiar products they’re used to buying?
This is where the health education aspect will be crucial. Their press release states that “Walmart and the Walmart Foundation will provide nutrition education to 4 million U.S. households,” though it doesn’t specify who, precisely, will be providing that education and what it will entail.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a role for Health Coaches to us!
We want to know—do you think Walmart’s new health initiative will help fight the global health crisis? And do you think Health Coaches can play a role in helping them? Tell us in the comments section below!