Health Team

Grocery Stores Hope to Steer Children in Healthier Direction

Posted August 3, 2007 2:19 p.m. EDT
Updated August 3, 2007 7:39 p.m. EDT

— Many parents know all too well that kids like to fill grocery carts with unhealthy choices. They are attracted to colorful processed foods, treats and sugary cereals. However, more grocery stores are helping kids learn to shop smart.

As Tovah Arnold and her 5-year-old son, Isaiah, walked through the automatic sliding glass doors of Lowes Foods in northwest Raleigh, they knew it was no ordinary grocery trip. They had come for a scavenger hunt for healthy food choices.

The scavenger's list was there as they entered. Lowes Foods offers the list and other education programs for healthy choices in conjunction with Blue Cross Blue Shield's "Eat and Move" campaign.

The scavenger hunt is a list of riddles that lead players to certain foods, like "Eating one ________ a day will keep the doctor away." The clue led Isaiah to the produce section, where he found the apples.

Rather than high-fat and high-sodium sandwich meat, the Arnolds went to the deli counter for a healthier slice. Some deli meats and cheeses come without preservatives, though you have to ask for them.

The scavenger hunt list asks, "Which drink gets you moooooving?" Isaiah needed some help, so he asked his mom.

"What animal goes mooooo?" she said. Isaiah responded, "A cow! So, it's milk!" Many registered dieticians say no one over age 2 needs whole milk, so the Arnolds chose 1 percent lowfat milk.

"What we hope this does for the families is to get the children talking to the adults about making healthier choices as they shop through the supermarket," said Cindy Silver, Lowes Foods corporate nutritionist.

The Arnolds spent most of their time around the perimeter of the store, where most natural foods are found. A normal trip might include some processed foods, but Silver suggests a strategy.

"For every one convenience or processed food, they should try to put four natural foods in the basket," Silver said.

Since Isaiah helped pick out the best choices for his body, he may be more likely to eat and drink them when he gets home.