Online Program

Better bites: Snack strong—changing the food landscape at recreational facilities for school-age youth and families

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ashton Potter Wright, MPH, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Mark A. Swanson, PhD, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY
Anita Courtney, MS, RD, Chair, Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition, Public Health Consultant, Lexington, KY
Amber Finseth Smith, BA, University of Kentucky, College of Public Health, Lexington, KY
Carol A. Bryant, PhD, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Kentucky ranks 3rd in the nation for childhood obesity and 10th for adult obesity. Increasing access to healthy food has been identified by the Institute of Medicine as a key strategy for reducing obesity. Better Bites, a healthy snacking initiative, was developed in 2011 by the Tweens Nutrition and Fitness Coalition and Lexington Parks and Recreation to increase access to healthful foods at recreational and other venues that tweens (youth ages 9-13) and their families frequent. The findings from an analysis of sales data, observational reports, implementation experience, and 154 one-on-one interviews with managers, staff, and patrons at five community pools were evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Better Bites sales more than doubled from 2011 to 2012, increasing from 9% to 19% of total sales at the Parks and Recreation pools. Key themes from patron interviews include: variety of options, price, and quality of menu offerings. Challenges reported by managers and staff centered on storage and preparation space, adjustment to new menu items, and perishability of fresh items. Recommendations were generated and were grouped into four categories: menu, training, promotion, and concession stand operations. These results are informing the Better Bites menu, staff training, brand promotion, and concession stand operations for summer 2013 and beyond. Because of the success in changing purchasing patterns in the test setting, there are plans to expand the Better Bites brand to other venues including schools, after-school programs, PTA and booster-club sponsored events, community centers, neighborhood stores, restaurants, and a mobile snack cart.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Evaluate perspectives of consumers and providers of an innovative healthy snack promotion project. Evaluate an innovative approach to increasing children’s access to healthy foods. Develop recommendations to improve and expand healthy snacking programs.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I participated in the intervention planning and implementation, as well as supervising the doctoral dissertation upon which this work is based. I am an NIH-funded associate professor in an accredited college of public health.
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.