Health Incentives

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

One of the complaints people make about the push to get Americans to eat more healthfully is that it costs too much. Now, whether that is true or not is a matter of conjecture, although it doesn’t take an economics major to see that it is often cheaper to buy fat-laden burgers and fries than to purchase healthier options. There are good reasons why fast food restaurants proliferate in the poorest neighborhoods.

Well aware of this perception, many non-commercial foodservice operators have employed a simple method for trying to encourage healthful eating. They offer discounts for the purchase of healthy foods and create attractive combos of low-calorie items to play off the related perception that meal deals are cheaper than à la carte purchases.

I like the incentive approach to wellness. Subsidize my gym membership and I’m more likely to join and take advantage of a fitness facility. Give me opportunities to be educated about nutrition and wellness and I’ll have the ammunition to make healthful choices. Lower the price of healthy foods and I’ll probably buy more of them.

A health insurance firm in South Africa reportedly has taken that last approach, and two researchers have been studying the effort. The insurance company has for the last four years offered a program called HealthyFood. Under the plan, members receive a 25% rebate on healthy items they purchase from 800 supermarkets across the country.

Writing in Modern Healthcare, Roland Sturm, senior economist for the Rand Corp., and Derek Yach, senior vice president of the Vitality Institute, say that the insurer has met with some success by offering its members a reward for buying healthful food items. Sturm and Yach have analyzed data from grocery stores’ checkout scanners to assess the success of the program.

“We estimate that a 25% rebate on healthy foods raises the share of healthier foods that program participants buy by 9%, while cutting the share of less desirable foods they purchase by about 6%,” the pair wrote. “There’s other good news from the South African experiment. Surveys suggest that the price changes altered behavior, too: consumers reported that they were eating larger amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods, and said that they were eating less processed meat and foods high in added sugars, fats or salt.”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Billerica Memorial High School in Billerica, Mass., is turning to a little friendly competition to get students excited for lunch, Wicked Local Billerica reports.

Throughout the month, the school is hosting a sandwich competiton between its principal and vice principals. Each contestant created a sandwich to be added to the lunch menu for one week, from which a winner will be chosen.

The competition was proposed by Director of School Nutrition April Laskey, who said she was surprised by how responsive people were to the idea.

Read the full story via billerica....

Industry News & Opinion

Just over 100 foodservice workers at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have voted to join a branch of the Service Employees International Union, KIMT reports.

SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said that 89% of the ballots cast during last week’s election were in favor of unionizing.

The workers are employed by Sodexo, Mayo Clinic’s current foodservice vendor. The clinic recently announced plans to switch vendors to Morrison Healthcare Food Services, a move that has sparked backlash from workers and led to a lawsuit from the SEIU .

Read the full story via .

Sponsored Content
pasta dish from NC State

From Barilla.

Good-for-you food doesn’t do much good if it’s a hard sell to get diners to eat it. Luckily, pasta is nearly always a crowd-pleaser, especially with student athletes who benefit from its nutritional boost.

“One thing about pasta is that students like it,” says Lisa Eberhart, a registered dietician and director of nutrition and wellness for North Carolina State University, where they serve Barilla pasta. “It’s also a great source of slow-burning carbohydrates.”

In fact, 57% of Gen Z consumers and 58% of millennials call pasta a “preferred food,”...

Industry News & Opinion

The Los Angeles Unified School District has lifted its ban on flavored milk in an effort to reduce food waste, the Los Angeles Times reports.

After implementing the ban in 2011, the district noticed that many students would simply throw away their unused milk containers, causing them to end up in landfills. In order to combat the problem, the district’s board is launching a four-part study in 21 schools that will examine different ways to encourage kids to drink more plain milk.

One of the theories proposed is that students will be more likely to drink plain milk if they...

FSD Resources