Health Incentives

There are good reasons why fast food restaurants proliferate in the poorest neighborhoods.

Sturm and Yach noted that they’ve found no evidence yet to suggest that these changes in behavior have translated to reduced obesity, although they were encouraged by the evidence that suggests a financial incentive can prod people to alter their diets.

In the U.S., we are beginning to see health insurance companies working with employers to craft incentives for employees to follow healthier lifestyles. However, most of these programs deal with non-diet efforts: smoking cessation and stress relief classes, gym membership subsidies and the like. I am not aware of any efforts similar to what is happening in South Africa to encourage Americans to buy healthier foods. 

The fundamental problem in the U.S., when it comes to any movement, is that it so often happens in a piecemeal fashion, on a grass-roots level. For example, some but not all insurance companies offer potential life-altering programs, and the programs being offered often target select groups, such as smokers.

When it comes to diet, many colleges and a growing number of hospitals offer nutrition education and/or incentives to eat more healthfully. But again, not enough of them do and the audiences are limited: college students, faculty and staff, hospital staff and visitors. Some chain restaurants are beginning to offer healthier menu options, but the effort isn’t particularly strong or universal yet. 

In short, there are a lot of good efforts being put forth here and abroad to try to curb obesity. But until we find a way to connect the dots and link all these efforts into a cohesive plan, studies like Sturm and Yach’s will continue to show progress without revealing any light signifying an end to this tunnel.

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University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

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In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

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Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

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