Wal-Mart offers discounts on healthy foods: should Australia follow suit?

America’s largest supermarket has teamed up with a leading insurance company to offer healthy foods at a reduced price.

Supermarket giant Wal-Mart’s collaboration with Humana Insurance will allow eligible shoppers to get a 5 per cent discount on healthy products, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and low fat dairy.

All the eligible foods, including eggs, wholemeal bread and almonds, will be marked with a “Great For You” icon, allowing shoppers to easily spot the discounted, healthy products.

The offer, to start 15 October, will be available to more than 1 million eligible customers currently covered by Humana insurance.

The grocery giant said the move is part of its plans to make healthier foods more accessible for Americans, which have the highest rate of obesity in the world.

Last year it announced plans to lower salts, fats and sugars in thousands its private label products and agreed to cut produce prices by 2015.

Australian is also struggling with its collective weight, with latest figures showing one in three children and one in four adults is overweight or obese.

The Food and Grocery Council (AFGC)’s Responsible Marketing to Children Initiative (RMCI) has reduced the number of advertisements aimed at children promoting unhealthy foods, and a number of manufacturers have voluntarily begun reducing sugar, fat and sodium content of products, but the problem still remains.

Many experts believe more education is needed to curb the rise in obesity, which poses a threat to Australia’s healthcare system, which will struggle to handle the rates of obesity-related conditions if current rates continue.

The high price of healthy food choices as opposed to low-cost unhealthy alternatives has also been slammed in Australia and there have been suggestions we should adopt a "fat tax" or "sugar tax" to improve current obesity rates.

Do you think Australia needs a similar initiative to the one Wal-Mart is implementing? Could it help improve the nation’s health?

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