Cal­i­for­nia hos­pi­tals take obe­sity fight to su­per­mar­kets

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Irvine, Cal­i­for­nia

En­ter a su­per­mar­ket and the dilemma is all too com­mon: Will what I buy be healthy? Fat­ten­ing? A sub­sti­tute? That’s when many wish they had a spe­cial­ist at their side.

Shop with Your Doc, a pro­gram or­ga­nized by a net­work of hos­pi­tals in the US state of Cal­i­for­nia, aims to help with that, sta­tion­ing doc­tors and nu­tri­tion­ists in su­per­mar­kets to aid cus­tomers in nav­i­gat­ing food choices in a coun­try where a third of the pop­u­la­tion is obese.

Chih-I Lee, shop­ping in a su­per­mar­ket in the city of Irvine, ad­mits that she has a weak­ness for fizzy soft drinks.

Sara Foronda wor­ries about di­a­betes, which runs in her fam­ily, and strug­gles to look away from al­lur­ing cook­ies on dis­play.

Mike Kee­gan wants to buy or­ganic prod­ucts but some­times they are too ex­pen­sive so he takes home sub­sti­tutes.

Sud­denly the shop­pers cross paths with a woman in a white coat. She is Mon­ica Do­herty, a nurse spe­cial­iz­ing in fam­ily medicine.

“We are ed­u­cat­ing con­sumers on healthy op­tions to help them max­i­mize their health,” said Do­herty, all the while clar­i­fy­ing con­sumers’ mis­con­cep­tions and giv­ing ad­vice, in­clud­ing recipes.

Sub­sti­tute mashed pota­toes with cau­li­flower puree, for ex­am­ple, or sweet soft drinks with car­bon­ated wa­ter, no sugar added, she sug­gested.

That is valu­able ad­vice to shop­pers mak­ing their way down aisles crammed with mouthwatering temp­ta­tions, much of it pro­cessed and pack­aged.

Obe­sity is an epi­demic in the United States, af­fect­ing 32.6 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Obe­sity many times is mul­ti­fac­to­rial, and poor choices in the gro­cery store is one piece of it,” said Richard Afa­ble, the doc­tor, who is chief ex­ec­u­tive and pres­i­dent of St. Joseph Hoag Health. The com­pany has spon­sored Shop with Your Doc days for three years, usu­ally dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, when peo­ple tend to throw di­etary cau­tion to the wind.

ROBYN BECK / AFP

Physi­cian as­sis­tant Ma­rina Sar­wary (left) speaks with a shop­per about food choices as part of the Shop with Your Doc pro­gram on Mon­day in Irvine, Cal­i­for­nia.

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