Unique Collaboration Brings NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System to Coborn's Grocery Stores

Oct 26, 2010, 11:59 ET from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Revolutionary system to help Central Minnesotans eat better, tackle obesity

ST. CLOUD, Minn., Oct. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a move to help greater St. Cloud area residents eat better, improve their health and reduce rising obesity rates, a unique team involving CentraCare Health Foundation's BLEND initiative, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross), and Coborn's grocery stores, today introduced the NuVal™ nutritional scoring system to Central Minnesota.

The NuVal scoring system, developed by David Katz, M.D., Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, and a dozen of the world's leading minds in health and nutrition, gives food items a score from 1 to 100; the higher the score, the higher the nutrition.  The system takes more than 30 different nutrients into account in developing a score.  Scored categories include meat, seafood, poultry, salty snacks, milk, yogurt, vegetables (fresh, frozen and canned), cereal, bread, cookies, soft drinks, and crackers, among others. Ultimately, NuVal will guide grocery customers in all food categories.

"People today have the will to eat healthier, and NuVal provides the way," said Dr. Katz.  "In a time where food labels can be so confusing that we literally aren't sure what foods will truly nourish us, NuVal provides a GPS system to find better foods in all aisles of the grocery store."

CentraCare Health Foundation's BLEND Initiative (Better Living: Exercise and Nutrition Daily) sees the introduction of NuVal as an important step toward its goal of community wellness.

"The NuVal system fits well with CentraCare Health System's mission of working to improve the health of every patient, every day," said CentraCare Health System President, Terry Pladson, M.D. "The system will help empower consumers to make choices that can improve their health."

Customers will find NuVal labels for thousands of items at eight participating Coborn's grocery stores:  Clearwater, Foley, both Sartell locations, Sauk Rapids, both St. Cloud locations, and St. Joseph.  NuVal scores are located on the supermarket shelf marked by a double hexagon, allowing Coborn's customers to easily compare the overall nutrition of foods.

Using the NuVal system, Coborn's customers will be able to:

  • Discover the more nutritious products in a store more quickly and easily, by simply looking at the shelf tag, and choosing the higher NuVal score.
  • Harness the knowledge and research of more than a dozen of the country's best nutrition experts, and be able to share nutrition information with their families.
  • Get more nutrition for their budget, because they can now compare items side-by-side to determine which product offers the better value in terms of nutrition and price.  For instance, consumers may find that some varieties of frozen or canned vegetables score the same as fresh produce on the NuVal scale.
  • Compare the nutritional value of name brand vs. store brand products. In many instances, consumers will find that Coborn's private label items are just as nutritious as the name brands.

Better nutrition is a critical issue for Minnesota.  Today, more than 60 percent of adult Minnesotans – about 2.2 million people – are overweight or obese.  Not being at a healthy weight puts people at increased risk for heart diseases and conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and colon cancer.  Treating these conditions takes a tremendous toll on our pocketbooks and quality of life.  Minnesota's total annual obesity-related health care costs are estimated at more than $1.3 billion, according to a 2004 study.  In a separate study, Blue Cross found obesity-related costs in Minnesota could grow $3.7 billion per year by 2020 if left unchecked.  Blue Cross believes NuVal is a tool to help place consumers on the path to better health.

"As a health company committed to making a healthy difference in people's lives, Blue Cross works to find innovative ways to reduce obesity in Minnesota and the toll it takes on our health," said Marc Manley, M.D., Chief Prevention Officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. "We believe this collaboration with CentraCare's BLEND organization, and Coborn's stores, is an important step in removing barriers and improving access to healthy eating.  Now families will have the information they need to make the healthy choice the easy choice."

Participating Coborn's grocery stores carry NuVal labeling for more than half of all their grocery products, and will continue adding more.  In the stores, students from the four St. Cloud area universities (St. John's University, the College of St. Benedict, St. Cloud State University, and the St. Cloud Technical and Community College) who are studying for careers as dieticians or nutritionists, will help educate consumers about NuVal.

"Coborn's is dedicated to the health and sustainability of our communities," said Coborn's President and CEO, Chris Coborn.  "This unique collaboration gives us the opportunity to help our customers make better informed decisions about nutrition."

With the addition of the eight Coborn's stores in central Minnesota, the NuVal Nutritional Scoring System is now available in nearly 900 supermarkets in 23 states across the United States.

"We're excited that local organizations have come together to make NuVal available to more Minnesotans," said NuVal General Manager, Mike Nugent.  "This community-based model is the first of its kind for NuVal, and a model of innovation for the rest of the country as we all strive for better health."

For more information, visit www.BlendCentralMN.org.

About NuVal:

The NuVal Nutritional Scoring System is a unique food labeling system which ranks all foods between 1 and 100; the higher the score, the higher the food's overall nutrition. NuVal Scores can be found in participating grocery stores, where they are posted on shelf tags next to the product price and on in-store signage. Currently, NuVal scores can be found at eight Coborn's grocery stores in the greater St. Cloud area. Visitors to the NuVal website (www.NuVal.com) can find sample scores in a variety of categories.  NuVal is a joint venture formed in 2008 by Topco Associates, LLC, and Griffin Hospital.  Retailers interested in learning more about the NuVal System can contact NuVal LLC at partners@NuVal.com or (781) 228-5800.

About The Local Collaboration:

BLEND   (Better Living: Exercise and Nutrition Daily), is a coalition of medical professionals, policy makers, educators, health care advocates, and parents who are committed to improving the health of children in the St. Cloud area by reducing the epidemic of childhood obesity. The project is funded by the CentraCare Health Foundation and collaborates with a large group of medical, educational and non-profit organizations. The coalition began in 2006 and has identified four main areas of focus: Physical Activity, Nutrition, Medical Community, and Community Engagement.  By coordinating resources and programs in each focus area, BLEND is working to make a significant impact on childhood obesity.  For more information, visit www.BlendCentralMN.org

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota's first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago. Go to www.BlueCrossMN.com to learn more about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

Coborn's, Incorporated, is celebrating 89 years of serving central Minnesota.  The St. Cloud-based company is employee owned, and operates 39 Coborn's, Cash Wise Foods and Save-A-Lot grocery stores in the Upper Midwest. The company also owns and operates convenience, liquor, video stores, pharmacies, CobornsDelivers online grocery and home delivery service, a central bakery, central dry cleaning facility, central commissary, long term care pharmacy and its own grocery distribution center.  The company employs more than 6,500 workers in six states. Find out more by visiting www.Coborns.com.

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota