Dr. Marc Watkins – Chief Medical Officer – Food as Medicine, Listen to Understand Racism, and Kroger’s Response to the Pandemic

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In this episode, we’re joined by Dr. Marc Watkins, Chief Medical Officer of Kroger Health. We cover a wide range of topics in our conversation that includes Watkins’ passion for food as medicine and his journey with weight loss, why he chose to practice medicine, an important discussion on racism, Watkins’ service in Iraq and how it impacted his practice in the U.S., and Kroger’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a grocer and clinic. Dr. Watkins is thoughtful with his words and approach, and listeners of all backgrounds will gain insight and encouragement from this conversation.

Food as Medicine (5:50)
As CMO of Kroger Health, one of Dr. Watkins’ favorite parts of the job is their dietician/nutritional programs coupled with their food as medicine strategy. They help their customers through their OptUP App that has a free food scoring system.

How Obesity and Diabetes Can Be Positively Impacted by Food (14:13)
Watkins shares alarming statistics about obesity and diabetes but emphasizes that these diseases can be positively impacted by food, no matter where you are on the continuum. He shares his own journey with weight loss after getting a bad cholesterol report.

Why Dr. Watkins Chose to Practice Medicine (24:11)
Outside of his supportive parents, Watkins points to an unexpected mentor in his life – Dr. Seymour Charles, his child pediatrician. His advocacy for the safety and health of children helped Watkins realize the impact he could have in the medical field.

Listen to Understand Systemic Racism (30:43)
Watkins shares the importance of non-people of color being willing to listen to understand - not respond. People of color are already aware of having to adapt their behavior where expectations are different. He desires an America that isn’t different based on the color of your skin.

Rely on Training in Both the Military and Medical Practice (39:12)
Watkins describes some of the difficult scenes he experienced while in Iraq and the importance of relying on your training in traumatic, stressful environments. As he was told when getting ready to deploy: “If you weren’t trained to do this, you wouldn’t be here.”

How Kroger Responded to the Pandemic (50:16)
Kroger faced the unique challenge and opportunity of being an essential business as both a grocer and clinic. Watkins discusses the development of a task force that mobilized the company to be one of the first to implement many of the changes and precautions that are now standard, months after the start of the pandemic.

Closing
Humans in Healthcare is produced by Shearwater Health in Nashville, TN, and hosted by Chief Marketing Officer, Nathan King.
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19 episodes