184167 Changing the Environment by Offering Healthy Restaurant Choices: A Public Health and Business Perspective

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 11:30 AM

Shana S. Patterson, RD , Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO
Mathew Christensen , Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO
Thomas Carlson , Franchise Owner, McDonald's Corporation, Denver, CO
Nationally, 127 million Americans are considered overweight. The 2005 Behavioral Risk Surveillance System reports 54.5% of Coloradans are overweight (9.2% higher than in 1995). The US Dietary Guidelines recommend that individuals (adults and children) eat a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. In 2005, 75.5% of Coloradans failed to meet these minimum recommendations. Numerous reports indicate that eating more fruits and vegetables decrease the incidence of many chronic diseases, including obesity and diabetes. However, consumers who eat away from home consistently eat fewer servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The Colorado Physical Activity and Nutrition Program developed a unique restaurant intervention, Small Steps for Healthy Leaps, to address the issues surrounding high-fat foods and lack of healthy-eating choices. The process of this intervention uses the social ecological theory as the guiding framework, supporting the model that social environments impact individual behavior. While the Small Steps initiative has four program options for restaurants to participate in, the Smart Meal Seal program will be highlighted. The Smart Meal Seal McDonald's pilot in particular has received considerable attention and was included as an accomplishment in Colorado's governor, Bill Ritter's “Administration's First 100 Days” report. The Smart Meal Seal program has also been identified as one of the Colorado Dietetic Association's priority project areas for 2007-2008.

The nutrition requirements of Smart Meals include: two servings or more of beans, whole grains, fruits or vegetables. May substitute one serving for a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk product; 700 or less calories; 30% or less from total fat; 10% or less from saturated fat; no added/artificial trans fat; and less than 1500 mg of sodium.

Many restaurants in Colorado are participating in this program. McDonald's Corporation has been one of our leading restaurants and will be presenting on their experiences from an owner/business perspective. The McDonald's Smart Meal pilot was launched on July 1, 2007 in 110 Denver Metro stores. Periodic quantitative/qualitative evaluation measures are being conducted with restaurants to determine program effectiveness. The expected outcome is to change the environment by increasing restaurant participation, increasing qualifying menu items, and thereby increasing ‘healthy item' consumption in Colorado.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will be able to identify the Smart Meal Seal and nutrition requirements for meals. 2. Participants will be able to apply the restaurant-recruitment process to their own state or community, while recognizing program successes and potential barriers to success from the restaurant or business perspective. 3. Participants will be able to utilize tools and program protocols as marketing incentives for increasing restaurant participation in their own communities.

Keywords: Obesity, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the creator, spokesperson and manager for the Smart Meal program in Colorado.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.