Navigation Links
Color-coded labels improve healthy food choices in employees from all backgrounds
Date:8/6/2012

A program designed to encourage more healthful food choices through simple color-coded labels and the positioning of items in display cases was equally successful across all categories of employees at a large hospital cafeteria. In an article appearing in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report that the interventions worked equally well across all racial and ethnic groups and educational levels.

"These findings are important because obesity is much more common among Americans who are black or Latino and among those of low socioeconomic status," says Douglas Levy, PhD, of the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH, lead author of the AJPM report. "Improving food choices in these groups may help reduce their obesity levels and improve population health."

The authors note that current efforts to encourage healthful food choices by labeling or posting the calorie content of foods have had uncertain results. Even individuals with relatively high educational levels may have difficulty reading and understanding nutritional labels, and the problem is probably greater among low-income or minority individuals with limited literacy. As reported earlier this year, the MGH research team which includes leaders of the MGH Nutrition and Food Service devised a two-phase plan to encourage more healthful food purchases without the need for complex food labels.

In the first phase, which began in March 2010, color-coded labels were attached to all items in the main hospital cafeteria green signifying the healthiest items, such as fruits, vegetables and lean meats; yellow indicating less healthy items, and red for those with little or no nutritional value. The second "choice architecture" phase, which began in June 2010, focused on popular items cold beverages, pre-made sandwiches and chips likely to be purchased by customers with little time to spend who may be more influenced by location and convenience. Cafeteria beverage refrigerators were arranged to place water, diet beverages and low-fat dairy products at eye level, while beverages with a red or yellow label were placed below eye level. Refrigerators and racks containing sandwiches or chips were similarly arranged, and additional baskets of bottled water were placed near stations where hot food was served.

The study was designed to measure changes in employee purchases of green-, yellow- and red-labeled items by racial/ethnic categories and by job type during both phases of the program. Data reflecting purchases by more than 4,600 employees, each of whom was enrolled in a program allowing them to pay for meals through payroll deduction, was recorded by cafeteria cash registers and matched to human resources information. While it was possible to track how an individual employee's food choices changed during the study period, no information that could identify an employee was available to the research team. Participants were categorized by self-reported race or ethnicity white, black, Latino or Asian. Educational level was reflected by job type service workers; administrative/support staff; technicians, including radiology technicians and respiratory therapists; health professionals, such as pharmacists and occupational therapists; or management/clinicians, which included physicians and nurses.

At the outset of the study, black and Latino employees and those in job categories associated with lower education purchased more red items and fewer green items than did white employees or those in higher-education job types. But at the end of both phases of the intervention, employees in all groups purchased fewer red items and more green items. A specific analysis of beverage purchases chosen because the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverage is highest among black and low-income individuals and strongly linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease found that the purchase of healthful beverages increased for all groups. In addition, black and low-education employees, who paid the highest cost per beverage at the study's outset, were paying significantly less per beverage purchased at the end of the study period.

All elements of the overall program remain in place at the MGH, and the color-coded labeling has been extended to all food service sites. "Further study is needed to determine the long-term effect of these interventions and whether additional steps could improve their effectiveness in particularly vulnerable populations," says Levy, an assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "But because these measures are both simple and inexpensive to implement, they could easily be tried in a variety of food sales environments such as cafeterias, convenience stories and even vending machines."


'/>"/>
Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Choosing Sunscreen? How to Decode the Labels
2. Study finds drug warning labels need overhaul to better capture attention, convey information
3. Changes needed for oft-ignored prescription warning labels
4. Graphic Cig Pack Labels Make Smokers Think, Study Finds
5. Graphic warning labels improve smokers recall of warning and health risks related to smoking
6. Some Improvement in Heart Risk Factors for Americans: CDC
7. Health care organizations quest for reduced costs and improved quality
8. Studying couples to improve health, better relationships
9. HCOs find risks & opportunities in quest for reduced costs & improved quality
10. Is Improved Vaccine Causing Whooping Cough Outbreaks?
11. Mayo Clinic Health System receives grant to improve rural health care
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Color-coded labels improve healthy food choices in employees from all backgrounds
(Date:2/13/2016)... ... February 13, 2016 , ... When an Au Pair comes all the ... what they are in for and they are often worried things won’t go well. More ... hoping for. This year’s Au Pair of the Year winner’s all commented how their Au ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... 12, 2016 , ... The law firm of Morrow, Morrow, Ryan & Bassett ... of these scholarships is to encourage applicants to pursue a degree in their field ... two parishes. , “We have available jobs in St. Landry and Evangeline Parishes ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Each year, the American Physical Therapy ... Anaheim, CA at the Anaheim Convention Center. Almost 10,000 physical therapists across the country ... in action, learn more about their chosen field and network with their colleagues. ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Itopia, a ... the integration of Clarity Intelligence Platform (CIP) into Cielo®, a discovery, migration and ... intelligence (BI) to their small and medium business (SMB) clients. , ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... ... Vail knee specialist Robert LaPrade, MD, PhD was named one ... consists of physicians establishing, leading and partnering with ambulatory surgery centers across the United ... Center, also known as an ASC, is a modern health care facility focused on ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/12/2016)... ALEXANDRIA, Va. , Feb. 12, 2016  This ... & Specialty Pharmacy (JMCP) takes an in-depth look ... the recent spike in prescription drug spending, which has ... JMCP Editor-in-Chief Laura E. Happe ... Laura E. Happe , PharmD, MPH. --> ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... , February 12, 2016 ... anders vermerkt)   http://www.sedar.com ) ... http://www.telestatherapeutics.com abrufbar.    --> ... Unternehmens http://www.telestatherapeutics.com abrufbar.    ... PNK:BNHLF) veröffentlichte heute seinen Konzernabschluss des zweiten ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... 2016  Sequent Medical, Inc. announced today that it ... the safety and effectiveness of the WEB™ Aneurysm Embolization ... aneurysms.  Prof Laurent Spelle , MD, Head of ... France and Principal Investigator of the CLARYS ... and Germany.  Although patients with ruptured aneurysms ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: