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.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

Ideas and Innovation
kale quinoa salad

With all the hype around probiotics, we decided to create a daily dish that incorporates probiotics in addition to prebiotics. You rarely hear about prebiotics, and this was a great way to highlight how the two work synergistically to maintain a healthy gut. Our chefs have developed menu items such as roasted salmon with yogurt and mint vinaigrette; kale and quinoa salad with warm maple dressing; and leek soup with pickled cucumbers, to name a few.

Ideas and Innovation
packaged meals

While the multiple-choice questions on FoodService Director’s annual census surveys are a great way of gathering data on trends, I’ve always been rather partial to the open-ended queries. We can’t possibly think up every answer operators might have to a particular question, and it gives respondents a chance to show some personality as well. (A special nod to one cheeky operator’s not-quite-safe-for-work response to how they’re tackling shortened lunch periods—you made my day.)

So this year, for the first time since I’ve been at FoodService Director, I chose to include a very open-...

Menu Development
ramen bowl spoon chopsticks

Asian noodle soups are a popular lunch option at YouTube’s San Bruno, Calif., campus, says Trent Page, the GM at Bon Appetit Management who runs the company’s three corporate dining venues. But Page noticed an increasing preference for customizable dishes and vegan preparations among the 1,000 customers he feeds daily. Inspired by a recent visit to Japan, he introduced tsukemen to the menu—a dish that features most of the traditional ramen ingredients (noodles, eggs and vegetable garnishes) served separately so diners can mix and match. “Separating the components makes it more customizable...

FSD Resources