Grocery shoppers in southern California now have a little help from physicians when putting together their shopping lists as part of a campaign to combat obesity and promote healthy eating.

The Shop With Your Doc campaign, a partnership between St. Joseph Hoag Health, part of Providence St. Joseph Health, and Kroger, brought 37 physicians, registered dietitians, nurses and medical assistants into Kroger and Kroger-owned grocery stores throughout Orange County, Calif. Physicians and dietitians walked aisles with shoppers and answered questions to help them make healthier choices based on their conditions. Nurses on-site also provided free blood-pressure checks.

Jennifer Lu, D.O., family medicine, St. Jude Heritage Medical Group, went to a Ralphs grocery store in Fullerton, Calif., an area with a high prevalence of diabetes. She was able to talk with a woman who had no primary care doctor, and who had many questions about reading labels, especially on pre-packaged foods. Lu even ran into one of her own patients during the event. A nice change of pace from seeing them when they are usually sick in the office, she says.

In an area like Orange County where more than 60 percent of adults are obese and the prevalence of diabetes is high, “lifestyle, diet and exercise are so key to improving one’s health,” says Lu. And many patients she encounters don’t fully realize how closely related diet and health are, she added.

In its third year, the campaign has been a successful part of St. Joseph’s journey toward population health. It’s proven to be a great way to reach patients where they’re at to improve the health of the community, says Kevin Manemann, president and CEO, St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare.

“This effort allows us to touch so many different walks of life, children to young adults to seniors,” says Manemann. “How many times do you see a physician in a white coat with a stethoscope when you walk into a grocery store? It’s just a cool thing to be a part of.”

For more information on this issue, see our Food Insecurity page with links to H&HN coverage and other AHA resources.