How health stores can help the health of the nation

Len Glenville
Chairman, National Association of Health Stores

There is no doubt that health has been a hot topic of conversation over the last 12 months. Vitamin D status, inflammation, underlying health conditions and obesity have all been investigated and cited as risk factors in the severity of Covid infections.

Despite this, recent research has shown that the health of a large proportion of the population declined over lockdown. The HFMA Health of the Nation survey from Dec 2020 reported that 31.5% of respondents felt their general health had worsened over the last 12 months. A further study found that 22% of adults reported that they gained weight during lockdown. Given that we know that obesity is a modifiable risk factor for Covid 19-related mortality, and that that the healthier you are when contracting a virus, the more chance you stand of a good recovery, these are pretty shocking statistics.

Other than the token mention of a ‘soup and shake diet’ last summer, it seems that the government has so far failed to act on these warning signs for long-term health. There may be a view that the vaccine is getting us out of the pandemic and so general health is no longer something we need to worry about.

As health stores we have a role in the health of our community. We are often the first place our customers come to talk about their health. While we are not medically trained doctors and of course we need to work within our scope, we understand which nutrition, supplement and lifestyle interventions will help. We often play the role of coach, counsellor and lifestyle adviser. With the right tools, we are therefore in a key position to influence future health. This could be the biggest opportunity we have to support the health of the nation.

So as a health store what can you do? Just by talking about health issues in-store and on social media you will be raising awareness and inspiring people to think and take action so I encourage you to do this as much as you can. You may want to take a more active role and if so, here are a few suggestions:

By establishing your health store as a key resource and knowledge base you will become the first thought for customers wanting to buy their health foods and supplements. You will also know that you are inspiring people to make healthier choices for their future.

To join the NAHS, contact Avril McCracken on 01875 341408 or email office@nahs.co.uk

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