A healthy advantage

Footprint’s Health and Vitality Honours were announced in January. Four key insights from this years Health & Vitality Honours.

Foodservice can achieve cultural change

Health and wellbeing is certainly on trend: 89% of people report they
want to make dietary changes to improve their health, while recent reports show salads overtaking fish and chips on pub menus. But facilitating the cultural shift towards healthier options is still a massive challenge when many consumers are often more motivated by other considerations such as time, convenience, lack of knowledge and – of course – a desire to treat themselves.

But it is possible to shift even demographics not typically associated with health towards healthier eating, as honour winner ESS demonstrated. Its holistic programme included healthier options on the menu, nutrition education sessions and military training instructors. It led to military personnel achieving massive improvements in nutritional knowledge and fitness as well as reductions in other important health measures, such as blood pressure.

Consumers will accept smaller portions

Portion sizes have ballooned over the last 50 years, significantly contributing to obesity and ill health. Studies have shown that this is because bigger portions and plates lead adults to eat more. Artizian’s winning entry tackled portion sizing with a broad campaign including consumer education about what constitutes an appropriate portion size: the Portion Distortion programme showed customers what exact portions looked like, using a pack of cards for protein, a tennis ball for a carbohydrate portion, a box of matches for a portion of cheese and a small ball for a portion of fat such as butter or olive oil. This enabled the caterer to reduce oversize portions while keeping the customer happy.

Less meat can be better for business

With increasing concern over the environmental footprint of food (which is responsible for 30% of emissions, when food production, distribution and land use change are accounted for), the concept of sustainable meals is taking hold. Two entries – one from Sodexo and the other from Lexington – showed that food that is good for people and planet is proving a commercial success. Winner Lexington’s newly introduced Grains & Greens range has seen sales of vegetarian hot lunches increase by 20%.

Students can be persuaded to make healthier choices

Keeping the 100 billion neurons of a student brain supplied with essential nutrients is a heavy responsibility for foodservice when the demographic is more commonly known for its penchant for cheap and cheerful, rather than highly nutritious, grub. Initiatives such as University of Brighton’s Sugar Smart scheme, which bagged the education honour, show it is possible to encourage students to consume fewer sugary drinks without harming sales. Adding a 10p levy to sugary drinks, displaying sugar content and facts near associated drinks, launching a social media campaign and making water more prominent are all helping to shift habits.

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