Last week, CVS Caremark changed its name to CVS Health and pulled all tobacco products from its shelves. Way to go, CVS. That’s a great move. And if CVS really wants to lead the charge toward better health care, there is an even more important step: It needs to tackle the grocery aisle next.
In my local CVS—just steps away from the pharmacy—the shelves and refrigerators are stocked with milk, butter, beef jerky, ice cream, frozen pepperoni pizza, and other unhealthful foods.
Beef jerky and the milk refrigerator are adjacent to the pharmacy.
Cheese and pizza are the top two source of saturated fat in the American diet—with other meat and dairy products rounding out the top 10. These high-fat foods not only contribute to our obesity rates, but also our country’s leading cause of death: heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease alone kills more Americans annually than all forms of cancer combined.
With 7,000 locations across the country, there is a huge opportunity for CVS to improve national health standards. Instead of selling artery-clogging meat and dairy products, it should offer heart-healthy grab-and-go snacks, like clementines, bananas, and hummus. Leading by example and ceasing the sale of dairy and meat products can turn CVS into CardioVascularSaviors.
The pharmacy is just to the left of these cases of ice cream and frozen pizza
Want to see nutrition resources at CVS Health? Tweet a link to our Nutrition Rainbow to @CVS! You can also find your local CVS on Yelp and leave a review, letting the store know that you admire the progress, but as long as it’s offering health care along with unhealthful foods, there’s incongruity in its message.
A recent report from the Environmental Working Group highlights the top sugar-laden cereals. Honey Smacks dominated the list with 15 grams of sugar per serving. While it’s fashionable these days to attack sugary cereals, sugar is hardly the most dangerous thing in your breakfast bowl. That dubious distinction goes to the milk.
For starters, milk itself is high in sugar. While the top five cereals on EWG’s list all had between 14 and 15 grams of sugar per serving, milk was nearly as high with 12 grams of sugar in a cup of skim milk. One cup of chocolate milk has almost 24 grams of sugar.
What is considerably more worrisome is the fact that milk is linked with cancer—particularly prostate cancer. In international comparisons and in several prospective studies, men consuming the most milk had a substantially higher risk of prostate cancer, apparently due to milk’s effects on male hormones.
You don’t need milk. Studies show that milk does not actually help build strong bones, and the protein in milk can easily be obtained from other sources. One cup of oatmeal has 5.5 grams of protein—as well as 4 grams of fiber. Quinoa also makes an excellent breakfast, and one cup of quinoa contains has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Making a few servings of quinoa or a pot of oatmeal, and then sticking them in the refrigerator, makes them as easy as cold cereal on a frenzied morning.
And you can sweeten them both with fruit and a little bit of agave if you’re so inclined. Ditch the milk, and we’ll all be better off in the long run.