Nutritional Quality Remains in Shadows as Non-Grocery Packaged Food Increases

Nutritional quality continues to slide as Americans continue to purchase food from warehouse shopping clubs, convenience stores and big lot, non-grocery merchandisers. People are buying processed food in bulk and not making the health-conscious choices they should, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill examined the data behind what consumers are really buying in bulk. The research was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2015) and it was not a good indication of a healthier America.

The study’s data was compiled from the U.S. (Nielsen) Homescan Consumer Panel, analyzing a 12-year period between 2000 and 2012. Nearly 700,000 households were examined, representing 52 metro and nonmetro areas across the nation.

Consumers have increased their packaged food purchases (PFPs) and seem to be making all the wrong nutritional choices. This is mainly caused by the immense number of products with poor nutritional value that many large warehouse shopping clubs and big merchandisers offer at low prices. Much of the food staples served up by these massive, non-grocery clubs and merchandisers are loaded with sugar, processed saturated fat, sodium and calories.

“The present study demonstrated that the energy, total sugar, sodium, and saturated fat densities of household PFPs from mass merchandisers, warehouse clubs, and convenience stores were higher compared with grocery stores,” said lead author of the study, Dr. Barry Popkin of the Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina.

The study raises questions about the health risks for U.S. consumers since 78 percent of the national food expenditure is on PFPs and the low nutritional value of these products is alarming. Is saving a buck good value in the end? Often food prices, especially when purchasing in bulk, directly represent poor nutritional value.

Huge distribution warehouse with high shelvesHow can you take back your health? Simply make more health-minded nutritional choices. You will immediately find yourself at a farmer’s market instead of a warehouse — even a grocery store is a vast improvement. You’ll soon realize that purchasing your food at a warehouse is questionable.

Obesity, diabetes, cancer, inflammatory disease, and the number one killer of U.S. adults, heart disease are all increasing. More than one-third of U.S. adults are categorized as obese, and more than 600,000 people die of heart disease annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There is most definitely a connection, but you don’t need to be part of that dangerous cultural phenomenon. The CDC recommends that states and communities get directly involved in creating a more nutrition-based health plan.

Here are a few suggestions for you and your community by the CDC:

  • Be an advocate for statewide nutrition. Assist in creating food retail stores in areas that may be underdeveloped to increase access to healthier options.
  • Support healthy-minded food quality and variety in established stores in your community.
  • Be a personal promoter of healthier brands. 

Take back your nutrition. Stop wandering around warehouses and picking your food from pallets. Instead, go to the places where food is actually grown and cared for, never processed. You will be taking a stand, and your friends and family will see the difference in you. The trend will become contagious.

—Stephen Seifert

Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flare for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life. 


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