Employee questionnaire results
760 employees responded to the second questionnaire with more people over 50 participating and more of them being women compared with the first survey. The majority of respondents claimed to eat rather healthily (64%).
Unlike the results in 2009, 83,4% of respondents perceived balanced food to mean ‘various food in a moderate amount, in a nice environment’. Low calorie, fat, salt, and sugar were yet again only chosen by a small minority.
A smaller proportion (32%) of respondents were aware of a programme promoting healthy or balanced food in this sample than for the 2009 questionnaire with most of the information coming from the food industry.
15% of respondents have seen the FOOD logo. Out of these, only 3% of respondents (22 people) stated that they knew the content of the programme, with the website being their main source of information. Taking into account the very short time frame in which the actions and communications for this target group were produced, these figures were encouraging and welcomed by the national experts.
A majority (over 65%) of respondents reported having a lunch break every day (or almost every day) during the working week. Similar to the results from 2009, those who do not have lunch in a restaurant eat at home or bring their lunch from home. For those choosing not to eat out, the main reasons given were: preferring homemade food, lack of time and the inferior nutritional quality of the restaurant food.
The top five factors important to respondents in choosing a restaurant were: speed of service, affordability, the nutritional quality of the food, pleasant environment and a varied menu. Proximity to the workplace, which was ranked third when consolidating the results from the six countries, was only the seventh factor chosen by the Italian employees. This is different to the 2009 results where proximity was the main factor in choosing where to have lunch.
Apart from speed of service and affordability, Italian employees continue to place an emphasis on issues concerning healthy eating.
Restaurant questionnaire results
Fewer restaurants participated in the second questionnaire, 52 compared with 72 in 2009. Around 40% of them independently owned. Almost 65% of these restaurants offer a ‘dish of the day’ and over 60% offer a set menu at lunchtime.
75% of respondents showed interest in healthy or balanced food but only a few were aware of any existing nutritional programmes. Over 70% of respondents were interested in learning more about the subject. 23% perceived their knowledge to be sufficient and only 4% were not interested. These results indicate that restaurant owners are willing to learn more about healthy food and that they continue to be a good target group for the project’s interventions.
Lack of time and budget are most frequently chosen as reasons for not offering balanced meals. These results make it clear that working with restaurants to educate them about healthier cooking methods that are not more expensive or time consuming, should be advocated. This is in line with the response that free and short training sessions and leaflets are the most desired material for nutritional information.
In the past 12 months, half of respondents have either made some changes based on nutritional recommendations, were preparing to make changes or were considering making those changes. The restaurants currently have a positive attitude toward the nutritional recommendations. With the exception of an increase in the demand for different portion sizes, restaurant owners have not observed a change in the demand for healthier food by their customers.
Despite the difficulty in comparing the survey from 2009 to the later one, some themes emerge from both. Healthy food continued to be important to both target groups. Employees considered their eating habits to be rather healthy often choosing their lunch place based on nutritional quality of the food on offer, and three quarters of restaurateurs were interested in issues concerning balanced food. Both target groups were also interested in learning more about the subject.
In this second survey, both employees and restaurants were mostly still unaware of national nutritional programmes and with the lack of one; the FOOD project has an important role to play in educating these target groups about food and nutrition.