How Can the Healthcare Industry Make It Easier for Patients To Make Healthier Food Choices?

Most Americans don’t eat a healthy diet and take in too much sodium, saturated fat and sugar. But it shouldn’t be this way, said one industry expert.

“This shouldn’t be so hard,” said Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, founder of healthy food company Step One Foods, during a Tuesday panel at the MedCity INVEST conference in Chicago. “We should be able to walk into any grocery store for anything from any shelf and put [food] into our carts and feel good about it and know that it’s helping our health. We live in a food environment that is completely dysfunctional, that makes hyper-palatable, calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods that are addictive, cheap and advertise non-stop.”

The change has to come from the food and health industry itself, and there should be incentives in place for food companies, she added.

“We have to start reimbursing or supplementing or paying for foods that can be shelf stable and wake up food companies. … It has to be easier for people,” Klodas said. “It’s too hard.”

There needs to be better education around nutrition for children and providers as well, said Nebeyou Abebe, senior vice president of social determinants of health at Highmark Health. Abebe also spoke on the panel.

“In terms of how we help transform the minds of our youth and children in this country, [we have to] bring nutrition education back to schools,” Abebe said. “A lot of public schools don’t have nutrition education. … There are lots of providers that just don’t understand the value and importance of food as medicine as well.”

Klodas agreed with Abebe on the importance of nutrition education.

“If we did Home Economics from Kindergarten all the way through high school as a compulsory course and it was real Home Economics where … you plan menus for the whole week, you learn how to shop, you learn ingredients, you learn how to can, you learn how to grow food, then people would be cured,” Klodas said.

Jay Bhatt, managing director of Deloitte Services and another panelist, added that Americans want to make healthy choices but are confused. He cited a recent Deloitte survey that found 84% of consumers consider health and wellness when purchasing food, but 62% find the available information out there conflicting.

“I would say simplify,” he said. “Make the healthy choice the easy choice. Use technology and other modes to meet people where they’re at.”

Photo: vgajic, Getty Images

Related Posts