Rethinking Weight Loss Programs
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Over the years, weight loss programs, products and pills have promised quick and lasting results, however, few have had the research or results to support their claims. And while many individuals have been successful with weight loss, the percent of those individuals who keep the weight off over time is extremely low. What can retailers do to change this trend and help communities be healthier? Dr. James Hill, University of Alabama Birmingham, contends that the total issue of metabolic regulation is complex, much like the problem of global warming, and we need to use techniques that address this complexity. Based on his research, Dr. Hill shares the following insights:
Working with individuals:
- Help consumers close the energy gap they have after weight loss. Less energy will be required and the more individuals fill the gap with exercise the more successful they will be. The goal is to achieve at least 60 minutes of activity every day.
- Food restriction is not a long-term solution for weight loss maintenance but it’s important to work on portion size control.
- Higher to moderate protein intake is needed for satiation and maintenance of lean body mass. Help shoppers discover ways to include protein at mealtime – meat, poultry seafood and plant sources such as soy.
- Provide self-monitoring tools with simple recipes and coupons for healthy food choices throughout the store.
- Help individuals believe they have the power to make changes that can transform their life. Offer motivational tips and quick meal ideas via social media that highlight small positive changes.
Within the community:
- Sponsor community fitness events to promote fun ways to be active while strengthening your retailer’s commitment to wellness. Use this opportunity to promote better-for-you private brands and your nutrition programs/services.
- Partner with local fitness organizations to offer members healthy eating/weight management store tours and meal planning programs.
- Conduct healthy weight classes that provide both dietary and physical activity guidance.
- Work with local Physician offices to share the weight management solutions offered at your stores and develop a system for patient referrals.
Helping consumers achieve and maintain a healthy weight will drive deep customer loyalty. Educate shoppers on key strategies for success and provide realistic solutions and motivation. Your customers and stores will both benefit.