Eating healthy can be hard. Health care, food retail and technology companies can radically change the food ecosystem and support consumers in their journey to develop healthier eating habits to improve health outcomes.
- Almost three-fourths of US adults are overweight or obese. Partnerships between health care payors and providers, retail and tech may help change how we eat.
- Each organization can play a part in, and benefit from, a radically changed food ecosystem that boosts nutritional health.
- Lower health care costs, greater access to customers, improved customer loyalty, and improved patient outcomes may be achieved with a wider ecosystem approach.
Consistently eating healthy is hard. The average person makes more than 200 decisions related to food each day, and these decisions are shaped by financial, educational, geographic, social and emotional factors. For many, the current setup of the food ecosystem makes developing and sticking with healthy food habits feel unattainable and exhausting, which has contributed to a rise in nutrition-related illnesses. In fact, 73% of US adults are overweight or obese and nearly half of US adults have hypertension, and each of these nutrition-related illnesses comes with physical, economic, emotional and social costs to society and individuals.
Health care, food retail and technology CEOs, and chief strategy officers can make a large-scale impact on how we eat — and create long-term value for their enterprises — by moving beyond siloed efforts to come together in a big way to change the national food ecosystem. Forming a connected, consumer-centric food ecosystem could increase nutrition affordability, education and support. It could also widen companies’ customer bases, create new revenue streams through data and potentially reduce long-term health care costs.
Some of the many steps that go into making a healthy food choice include determining which food will help a person meet their health goals, planning meals for the week that fit within a budget, potentially purchasing the ingredients at multiple stores, preparing the food and logging nutrients all of which may involve multiple technology platforms. This is especially challenging for the 12% of the US population that is food insecure, as there are clear connections between food insecurity and obesity.
How can this fragmented and overwhelming process be turned into a connected, consumer-centric food ecosystem designed to make healthy eating easier, especially for those who may struggle to afford healthy food or maintain healthy eating habits? What if health care, food retailers and technology all worked together seamlessly?
By H. Mallory Caldwell, Jim Doucette, Asha Lundal & Haley Clement