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'Foodfluential' causing a stir

Guests at the event enjoy healthy food on the menu.
Guests at the event enjoy healthy food on the menu.

The new buzzword making its way around Mzansi's eateries is "foodfluential".

The word, coined by Discovery Vitality, highlights the culture of influencing healthy living and dining.

The first foodfluential expedition at Discovery Vitality in Sandton announced partnerships with four significant fast-food restaurants - Col'Cacchio, Doppio Zero, Ocean Basket, and Nando's.

The Sunday World team was invited to the exclusive foodfluential launch, under Vitality's HealthyFood benefit, alongside more than 50 guests, to engage in a panel discussion and cooking experience exploring new holistic, nutritious options for families.

"Unhealthy diets are responsible for millions of deaths globally, yet improvements could potentially prevent one in five of these premature deaths," says Dr Craig Nossel, head of Vitality Wellness.

He pointed out the surge of global obesity and convenience-based food buying trends.

"Our nutrition strategy is shaped by three simple but powerful principles - getting people to buy better food, cook more often and eat healthier meals when eating out," he says.

"A key focus of this is encouraging healthier dietary choices, particularly through the purchase of healthy foods to be prepared at home.

"However, we recognise that many people consume convenience and fast-food meals and to more effectively encourage healthy eating as a whole, we're guiding members at every point at which they consume food, and helping them save money at the same time."

His recommendations are that families buy healthy foods, specifically whole, unprocessed foods that are lower in salt and sugar and to prepare delicious food at home more often.

With informative slides he provided a reality check with sobering numbers.

More than 4.5-million deaths in 2016 were caused by overweight and obesity-related illnesses as a result of about 30% of the world's population being overweight or obese, Nossel says.

The situation in SA is worrying: nearly 70% of women and 31% of men are overweight or obese, while 13% of children are overweight, which for children is twice the global average.

The easy access to unhealthy foods that are cheap perpetuates the problem.

"The HealthyFood benefit, as a whole, uses the power of behavioural economics and big data analytics to inform our approach towards encouraging healthy, sustainable eating among our members.

"It is grounded in research that shows that people can make a significant impact on their health by changing their lifestyle and their buying behaviour," says Nossel.

Doppio Zero operations director Ivan Walsh says: "We evolve and make it delicious. We didn't sacrifice good food for health. We understand the balanced needs of our client base and we tailor our menus based on that."

A popular peri-peri chicken franchise spokesperson, Doug Place, says: "For the first time people are being rewarded for eating food and not being punished."

"We love that we are able to partner with a brand like Discovery Vitality, where the focus is . eating healthy."

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