Oct. 16, 2015 | The Tennessean
By Senator Bill Frist, M.D.
I believe one of the secrets of achieving good population health is to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
It means empowering consumers to make the right choices for themselves and their families by giving them plenty of healthful, convenient options.
It’s a community-focused way of thinking that sometimes requires a bit of creativity, but the health outcomes are long-lasting and powerful.
I’m glad there are companies investing in that sort of creative planning.
For instance, Tri Star Services’ Twice Daily convenience stores — based here in Nashville — have joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) and nearly 1,000 other convenience store locations nationwide to make healthier choices easier for those on the go.
The plan comes at a crucial time for my hometown. The United Health Foundation found Tennessee to be one of the unhealthiest states in the country, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked Davidson County 22nd among Tennessee’s 95 counties on health factors, which includes a measure of our food environment or access to healthful foods.
Convenience stores are designed to keep things simple for consumers and get them in and out with the products they want in record time. In fact, the average time spent in a convenience store is somewhere between three and four minutes. Prioritizing quick service and healthy options used to be mutually exclusive goals, but increasingly, customers aren’t just looking for convenient options but also healthy ones.
According to Nielsen data, convenience store sales of fresh fruits and vegetables increased 10.3 percent to $362 million in 2014, and a recent study from Technomic found that 53 percent of consumers surveyed said that they would visit convenience stores more often if healthier foods were more available.
With half of Americans frequenting a convenience store every day, this industry has a unique opportunity to reach a wide range of consumers.
With this weighty opportunity in mind, Twice Daily has committed to make real and substantial changes to their 37 stores, all of which will be verified annually by a third party. Over the next few years, customers will benefit from expanded healthier options, competitive pricing on those offerings, in-store promotion of healthier products and other strategies designed to make the healthy choice the easy choice.
These types of changes don’t eliminate less healthy snacks and drinks from shelves, but instead focus on making it easier for consumers to make healthy choices.
From a parent living in an underserved community, to millennials picking up ready-to-go meals, to high school kids grabbing a snack after school, millions of people stand to benefit from practical commitments to health.
Changes like these are vital as we work to spread a culture of health across America. As more companies and partners commit to helping increase the supply of healthier items and leaving consumers with the ability to choose what’s right for them, we’re well on our way.
Dr. William H. Frist is a nationally acclaimed heart and lung transplant surgeon, former U.S. Senate majority leader and chairman of the executive board of the health service private equity firm Cressey & Company. He is the honorary vice chairman of the Partnership for a Healthier America.
Photo by Mike Mozart of TheToyChannel and JeepersMedia on YouTube, via Flickr Creative Commons
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