INDIANAPOLIS -- Marsh Supermarkets is putting heavy emphasis on getting its customers to eat right in the wake of just-released statistics that mark Indiana as the 12th-fattest state in the nation.
A ranking by a federal government agency put the Hoosier state in that spot, and shortly afterward a Men's Fitness magazine article ranked Indianapolis No. 10 among the fattest cities.
In response to such dire news, Marsh Supermarkets teamed up with a statewide health care network to sponsor a "Lighten Up, Indiana" campaign. The crux of the program is to get overweight Indiana residents to shed 10% of their total weight in the name of health.
As co-sponsor, Marsh has launched a 12-week, weight management program at several of its locations. The retailer lined up health professionals and other specialists to help attendees develop a healthier lifestyle, officials said. Holders of a Marsh frequent shopper card will get a special rate. The retailer is announcing its weight management program in its ad circular and on its Web site.
Here's what the item on the Marsh Web site says: "Sign up here! Marsh Supermarkets 12-week Weight Management Program! This 12-week program is designed to encourage lifestyle modifications and to teach healthy eating skills. You will have pharmacists, dietitians and other specialists to teach you the skills needed to maintain a healthier you. These classes are limited and sign-ups will be taken in the order received."
The fee for the 12-week program is $204.99 with a Marsh Fresh Idea card. Customers can apply by filling out a form on the retailer's Web site.
The "Lighten Up, Indiana" campaign, developed and supported by a coalition that includes the Indiana Department of Health and Indiana-based individuals, companies and organizations, was launched with a news conference Jan. 30 at the Indiana State House. Jodi Marsh, along with several local health professionals, took part in the conference.
One of the campaign leaders, Dr. Catherine Bain, an endocrinologist with The Care Group, a statewide network of cardiologists and primary care physicians, pointed out that the goal of the "Lighten Up, Indiana" program is to get overweight Hoosiers to drop 10% of their weight in the next six months, which will put them on a healthier path.
"We're approaching this as a health issue, as opposed to a judgmental issue. Obesity is not a cosmetic problem," Bain said. She noted that excess weight can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, gall bladder disease and some forms of cancer, as well as other health problems.
The effort was spurred by the recent release of data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that show a big percentage of Indiana residents have a weight problem. Indeed, 21% of Hoosiers are classified as obese.
They, however, are far from alone. Health professionals at the press conference shared startling statistics like these: More than 60% of American adults are overweight or obese. One recent study they cited estimates that approximately 300,000 adult deaths annually in the United States are associated with obesity.
A similar campaign, launched by Philadelphia city officials last year, got several supermarkets, including Pathmark, ShopRite and Fresh Fields/Whole Foods Markets, involved. There, the emphasis at the supermarkets was to get more customers eating fresh fruits and vegetables [see "Retailers Help Philadelphia Shed Tonnage With Produce," SN, Oct. 29, 2001].
Community and health officials in Indiana said the communitywide weight-reduction programs can reduce health care costs.