Pennsylvania health system adopts color-coded menus

Menus encourage customers to make healthy choices.

April 15—At Pa.-based WellSpan Health, color-coded menus are helping customers make healthier choices.

The program, Eating Well Matters, is part of WellSpan's companywide health initiative, Wellness Matters, which Andrew Seebold, director of business services, says isn't about taking things away.

"We're creating awareness," says Seebold. "We want you to stop and think before you eat. The choice is still yours."

In January, the health system placed traffic signs throughout its York Hospital cafeteria to help employees understand each option's nutritional value. The labels are based around four criteria: saturated fat, sodium, calories and added sugar. Food labeled with a green circle contains acceptable amounts of the targeted ingredients. A yellow "yield" sign means diners should "use caution." These foods contain moderate amounts of the targeted ingredients, as designated by a dietician. A red octagon means "stop and think." Those menu items contain high levels of the nutrients, which are linked to serious health complications. Examples of the cafeteria's "red" offerings include dessert cakes, soft pretzels with salt, and anything fried.