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Aug 25, 2012 08:34 PM

Dietitians in Aisle 5?

From the NYT: "Employing Dietitians Pays Off for Supermarkets"

Money quote from the article:


"There’s been an explosion of interest in having a dietitian among grocery store retailers in the last three or four years,” said Annette Maggi, chairwoman of the supermarket subgroup of the food and culinary professionals practice group at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a consultant to the retail and food manufacturing industries.


At Hy-Vee, dietitians offer in-store consultations and store tours with customers, hold cooking classes, assemble take-home meals, take biometric screenings, do presentations in schools, businesses and civic events, work with merchandisers, help set up community gardens, assess products for nutritional value and a variety of other things.

Will going to your local grocery store replace a visit to your physician?

Full read here:

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  1. While I don't think that it will replace a doc's visit, I'm absolutely going to tell my Mom about this - she lives in a town with a Hy-Vee, and there are definitely some family members that would benefit from it and be willing to look into it.

    On a selfish, snarky note, I'd kind of like to see what a dietitian would recommend for me...multiple (over 20) food allergies (of the death variety, not the I get a stomach ache variety), delayed gastric emptying and a pancreatic insufficiency...

    3 Replies
    1. re: jw615

      I'm pretty sure this would be aimed at "standard deviations" -- you're so far outside the curve that it wouldn't really be fair to even ask. (A dietician worth his/her salt would hear you out, then ask what your regular dietician has recommended.)

      1. re: sunshine842

        I think you mean outliers, not standard deviations. jw615 is probably about 4 or 5 standard deviations from the mean!

        1. re: nofunlatte

          no -- I said exactly what I meant -- that the dieticians would be concentrating their efforts on those within a standard deviation or two from the mean.

          (The whole conversation is a little screwy, since there really isn't any way to derive a mean in this particular case...let alone a standard deviation)

    2. As the child of a dietician - part of me has a snarky response to this. That where people do/don't need help varries wildly from family to family and that 15 minutes together in the grocery store isn't going to make a huge difference.

      That being said growing up and going grocery shopping with my mom - I basically lived the experience of having a dietician shop with me. I grew up watching her read food labels, particularly in regards to how much is in a 'single serving' compared to how much is in the package. Learned about having basic healthy staples around, how to shop for produce, and how to find healthy replacements. I never ate any cured meats growing up, but as an adult I've come around to really appreciating the flavor - and while I know they're not healthy, I know enough to ask my mom "what's a healthier way to get the flavor?" (i.e. moderation? substitute? etc.)

      So I guess ultimately I see a lot of potential upside - as long as the dieticians don't come across too 'holier than thou' or 'these are the correct answers for everyone at all times'.

      1. I wonder if it changes people's behaviour in the stores (or if anybody's looked into it) -- might people who know there's a dietician in the store shop differently, knowing someone might be looking at what's in their cart?

        it's not a bad idea...I saw the Publix Aprons program (in-store, rush-hour demonstrations of quick-fix meals) change a LOT of what people were buying as they rushed in and out of the store...a dietician might have a similar effect.

        (Publix does it right, by the way -- the demo kiosk is right inside the front door -- and starts just as the busy folks are rushing in to get something for dinner. Good smells and samples right there, along with four-color glossy recipe cards that go in a binder...and a dedicated refrigerator/shelf case right behind the kiosk, stocked with everything you need for the meal -- grab and go.)

        1. This isn't going to affect me unless Trader Joe's hires a dietitian in my local branch. (And maybe not even then.)