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Kroger stores begin testing nutritional, health program

Looking to make shopping easier for health-conscious customers, Kroger will begin testing a nutritional initiative Wednesday in 23 Central Kentucky stores, including all of its Lexington locations.

Among the new offerings will be easy-to-understand nutritional shelf tags on a majority of products, dietitians on site to assist customers and a new health station — think the old-style blood pressure machines but with many advances.

The stores will serve as a testing ground for the entire country, as Kroger examines how shoppers respond to "Health Matters at Kroger."

"Many of our customers have told us they want to make healthier choices for their families, and we have listened," said Kroger spokesman Tim McGurk, adding that the program is "far more" than just shelf tags.

At the base of the initiative, though, is posting shelf tags on the majority of store products using the NuVal scoring system, which summarizes nutritional information into one single score between 1 for the least healthy to 100 for the most. The system analyzes more than 30 food factors and ingredients to arrive at the score, according to Kroger's description. The scores are not related to serving sizes.

Beyond that, Kroger is bringing registered dietitians in to offer scheduled tours with shoppers to help determine their individual needs. Some tours to be scheduled will focus on children. Kroger also is organizing monthly events including "Healthier Meal Maker" in April and "Cruising the Aisles with Kroger" in May.

The program also includes what Kroger has dubbed LUCY. That's the LC600 Health Station, a machine that allows customers to determine weight, body mass index, blood pressure, pulse, blood oxygen and more.

Users also can track their progress over time by creating an account at www.kroger.com/healthmatters.com.

Kroger has not set a firm timeline on how long it will observe the pilot. McGurk said the company will observe the interest, particularly looking at how many shoppers sign up for the online health-tracking service, as well as how many sign up for in-store dietitian tours.

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