Grocery-store-based nutrition education can improve eating habits, according to a new study titled "Nutrition Counseling for Hypertension Within a Grocery Store: An Example of the Patient-Centered Medical Neighborhood Model."

Researchers looked at 30 adults aged 18-60, all diagnosed with hypertension. Subjects received three free individual counseling sessions from registered dietitians over the course of 12 weeks at local grocery stores. The dietitians provided a recap of the visit and the patient’s progress to the primary care provider to be included in the patient’s records following each visit.

Following the education, according to a report onScience Daily, patients’ eating habits significantly improved in regard to total fruit, whole fruit, greens, beans, whole grains, fatty acids, refined grains, and empty calories. Intake of sodium and fat also significantly decreased, as did intake of added sugar, though not to the same extent as the other categories.

Blood pressure measurements decreased, though not to a statistically significant point; this was attributed to the small number of participants.

“Primary care providers face multiple barriers when delivering nutrition information to patients, including lack of training on how to provide lifestyle behavior counseling combined with lack of time to interact with the patient," said study author Rosanna P. Watowicz, Ph.D., R.D.N., L.D., in the Department of Nutrition at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. "Providing education at the grocery store offers a convenient location on a schedule with more flexibility than a primary care office and reinforces dietary changes in the environment where food decisions are made.”

Dr. Watowicz suggested that this strategy be researched in conjunction with other health conditions.