The news on salt and sugar-sweetened beverages presented at the 2013 meeting of the American Heart Association was disconcerting to anyone paying attention to the message. But paying attention to the message is the point, and there is some evidence that consumers are listening.

Despite the discouraging news (published in two separate Harvard University reports) on global death rates linked to high salt and sugar sweetened beverage consumption, the trend in fresh produce purchasing around the world is a ray of hope. For instance, consumers in Vietnam typically shop for their meals every day and spend about 64% of their food, grocery and personal care budgets on fresh foods. The allocation is notably less in the US – 30% – but fresh foods are an increasing part of the American shopping basket – and that’s been true even with inflation.

Nielsen statistics show that most people around the world say they’re changing their diets to lose weight. On average, 78% say they’re changing by consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, compared with the 69% who say they’re exercising more. It’s a little higher for Europe (80%) and the US (81%), and a bit lower for the Middle East and Africa (70%).

In an effort to address our growing waistlines and respond to demand, retailers around the world are enhancing their fresh product offerings to consumers, including check-out lanes where weary moms often stand with their children. In the United States, where consumers make the fewest trips for fresh foods, savvy retailers are diversifying and broadening their offerings to meet consumer demand to choose fresh foods anywhere they shop. This means that, even in non-grocery stores, bananas and apples are more readily available. In Europe last year, many retailers in France, Italy, Spain and the UK enhanced their fresh produce sections to respond to this new trend and, in some cases, there was an added emphasis on locally grown fresh produce.

So, there is evidence that we are paying attention to the news, and perhaps we’ll see the trend strengthen in years to come.

In a series of blog posts curated by the World Economic Forum’s Health Team, a number of leading voices will present their perspectives on health and healthcare in the run-up to World Health Day on 7 April.

Watch the Open Forum Davos 2013 War Against Obesity: Fat invoice? debate

Author: Karen Watson is Managing Director, Nielsen Government and Public Sector, LLC, Nielsen Company, USA.

Image: A woman shops for apples at a farmer’s market in Union Square in New York REUTERS/Andrew Burton