Consumer focus on health and well-being and the Food as Medicine trend remain as top factors positively impacting sales and profits for food retailers, according to FMI’s Food Retailing Industry Speaks 2020 report. Health and well-being – which are defined by the consumer – will continue to be key purchase drivers as consumers lead the charge in setting food and health trends. Registered dietitian nutritionists are trusted allies for shoppers and their families and add value to food retailers by increasing customer traffic into the store, improving customer loyalty through meaningful engagement, elevating basket size and sales through direct and indirect customers interactions, enhancing the retailer’s brand image through public relations and communications, and adding to the bottom line by creating revenue streams.
In November 2019, a NFRPD expert advisory group, made up of 24 professionals chosen for their expertise in food retail, business, health care, community and research/education, convened at a roundtable meeting at the Academy headquarters in Chicago, IL to determine how food retailers can implement Food as Medicine program models with RDNs leading these efforts. The resulting Food as Medicine definition and retail nutrition framework was developed as an outcome of the two-day roundtable meeting and further supported through findings from the Retail Nutrition Programs and Outcomes scoping review.
Food as Medicine Defined
The NFRPD Fellow and Advisory Group created a definition for “Food as Medicine” as part of year 1 of the NFRPD fellowship. In February 2021, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Board of Directors approved the definition of “Food as Medicine” and it was added to the Academy’s Definition of Terms list, which is a resource that houses terms, definitions, and key considerations to support the profession of nutrition and dietetics.
Food as Medicine is a philosophy where food and nutrition aids individuals through interventions that support health and wellness. Focus areas include:
- Food as preventative medicine to encourage health and well-being;
- Food as medicine in disease management and treatment;
- Food as medicine to improve nutrition security;1 and
- Food as medicine to promote food safety.
Food as medicine is a reaffirmation that food and nutrition play a role in sustaining health, preventing disease, and as a therapy for those with conditions or in situations responsive to changes in their diet.2
1 Yoder AD, Proaño GV, Handu D. Retail Nutrition Programs and Outcomes: An Evidence Analysis Center Scoping Review. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2020; In Press.
2 Downer S, Berkowitz SA, Harlan TS, Lee Olstad D, Mozaffarian D. Food is medicine: Actions to integrate food and nutrition into healthcare. BMJ. 2020; 369: m2482.
The Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Framework was designed to help RDNs leading Food as Medicine efforts in food retail settings to expand the impact of food retailers to support health and well-being for their customers, employees, communities and environments they serve.
The Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Landscape white paper includes:
- Background of the concept of Food as Medicine, the role Food as Medicine plays in health, and the importance of Food as Medicine in food retail settings
- Current landscape of retail health and well-being
- Food as Medicine program models and implications within food retail health and well-being platforms
- Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Framework for program development, including focus areas, target shoppers, and recommended program models
- Key elements for building successful Food as Medicine programs
- Case examples of current successful Food as Medicine retail models
Interested in learning more about Food as Medicine and implementing the retail nutrition framework? Access a PDF of the Food as Medicine Retail Nutrition Landscape white paper by completing a short form.