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Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on August 30, 2012


Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, Paulette Goddard Professor, Nutritionist and Author, New York, NY.

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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: What is the healthiest way to shop at the supermarket?

Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH: Shop the periphery ...that's where the fresh foods are. Um, if you're going to follow the advice eat less, move more. You want to walk all the way around the grocery store, that'll keep you moving and never go into the center isles. That's where the junk foods are.

Marion Nestle, PhD (cont.): I'm saying this somewhat facetiously, but my rules for grocery shopping are: Don't go into the center isles. Don't buy a product if it has more than five ingredients. Don't buy a product if you can't pronounce the list of ingredients. Don't buy anything with a health claim on it because those are misleading. Don't buy anything with a cartoon on it because that company is trying to market deliberately to children, and I don't think that's right. And, if you don't want your kids eating junk food, don't buy it.

: It sounds awfully simple, why aren't we doing it?

Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH: We're not doing that because 36 billion dollars a year of food marketing is set up to have you do the opposite. And super markets are designed to get you to buy more food not less. They are, I think, super markets perform a wonderful public service in providing one stop shopping for everything. But they're not a social service agency. They're a business. Their job is to get everybody who comes into that store to spend as much money as they possibly can squeeze out of the consumer.

Marion Nestle, PhD (cont.): Your job is, as a consumer, is to go into the store and get out of there as quickly as possible, spending as little as you can get away with. But the store is set up to make that really difficult. And the ways in which super markets are set up first of all, is to have very, very long isles. Because the rule is, rule number one is the more products you look at, the more you'll buy. So the object of the game is to get you to look at as many products as possible. That's why the isles are so long.

Marion Nestle, PhD (cont.): Then another rule is product placement is also important in determining sales. So the foods you can see most easily are the ones you're likely to buy. Those are at eye level, at the ends of the isles. And at the cash registers. And companies pay the stores in order to put their products in those places so that you're more likely to buy them.

Marion Nestle, PhD (cont.): So everything about the store is set up to get you to buy more food, and not only more food, but more of the most profitable foods for the stores. And those more profitable foods are not necessarily the ones that are healthiest for you and your family.

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