Press-Republican

Health

January 22, 2013

Consumers learn healthy-shopping techniques

PLATTSBURGH — Shoppers looking for healthy choices on their grocery lists can gather tips from a new program being offered by the Clinton County Health Department.

Nutritionists from the Health Department will meet with small groups of shoppers for scheduled tours of grocery stores, where they can identify healthy-food products and avoid those not-so-healthy options.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for some time now,” said Mandy Snay, supervising nutritionist for the Health Department. “It makes sense to meet people where they make decisions as they are walking up and down the aisles.

“With thousands of products available to them, that makes decision-making more difficult,” she added as she prepared recently to meet with a group touring the Hannaford grocery selections.

“We may focus on the particular needs of each group, but we typically look at sodium, fat and cholesterol content.”

LABELS AND MORE

The tour often keys in on food labels, including how to identify such factors as sodium and fat content, so consumers can decide whether a product that is marketed as low fat, for example, might actually have nearly as much fat content as the regular choice.

“We can compare the nutritional value of the store brand with the national brand and see that there’s often little difference,” Snay said. “That can also be a cost-savings measure for consumers.”

As part of the Eastern Adirondack Health Care Network’s Healthy Aging initiative, the tours have been geared toward residents 55 and older, though the Health Department will open the service to more age groups should the community show an interest, Snay noted.

On this particular day, the group consisted of men over 55 who chose to participate because they do the bulk of the shopping for their families.

EAGER TO IMPROVE

“I thought it might be interesting to get some help (on healthy-food selections) from a professional,” said Bud Smith of Peru. “I’ve been working with a personal trainer at (the Wellness Center at) PARC, and I thought this would be a good addition to what I’m doing there.”

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