The European FOOD -Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand- programme was created as a project in 2009 thanks to the co-funding of the European Commission (DG SANTE).
Edenred, as lead partner and coordinator, proposed to representatives of Public Health Authorities, Nutritionists, Research centres and Universities in six countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden) to form a Consortium of partners.
Despite the end of the EU funding in April 2011, the partners decided to take advantage of the actions and results and continued under a long-term programme, to which Spain is taking part.
Edenred designs and develops voucher programmes for companies and public authorities. Its flagship product is the meal voucher (or Ticket Restaurant®) which has been in practice worldwide for more than 50 years and is used by more than 43 million people every day in 42 countries.
Meal vouchers can act as a launch pad for effecting a change of employee food and lifestyle habits. Furthermore, the FOOD project – which became a long-term programme - is in perfect harmony with Edenred’s stated corporate social responsibility goals, of which access to balanced nutrition is a key priority. Edenred is responsible for the coordination of the programme and for the dissemination of the information and results.
Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
The Spanish Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the Spanish Federation of Dieteticians-Nutritionists) joined the FOOD programme in 2014. Its action is based in four areas that shape the ultimate ends and activities: practice-based evidence nutrition, learning for life, food education for the population and humanity cooperation. The Spanish Academy leads projects such as the Spanish Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (www.renhyd.org/index.php/renhyd), Based Evidence Nutrition Network "RedNuBE" (www.rednube.net) and the NGO FoodAction (www.alimentaccion.org).
Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN – formerly AESAN)
The Spanish Agency of Food Security and Nutrition (AESAN) is an Independent organisation assigned to the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, whose mission is to guarantee the highest level of food security and promote the health of the citizens, by doing the following: reducing the risks of food transmitted diseases, guaranteeing the efficiency of food control systems, promoting the consumption of healthy food, improving its accessibility and the information about it. The AESAN plans, coordinates and develops strategies and actions to promote health in the area of nutrition and especially in the prevention of obesity. The AESAN aims for citizens to have full confidence in the food they consume and sufficient knowledge to make healthy choices.
The AECOSAN was a FOOD member during the project phase.
Mediterranean Diet Foundation (FDM)
The Mediterranean Diet Foundation (FDM) is a non-profit organisation with a strict scientific and cultural agenda. It was founded in 1996 by the Association for the development of the Mediterranean Diet, to preserve the lifestyle that the Mediterranean countries have enjoyed for thousands of years. In addition, the Foundation contributes to the maintenance of a sustainable agriculture and to preserving the environment. The main objectives of the Foundation are to promote scientific research around the Mediterranean diet in relation to its healthy, historical, cultural and gastronomic aspects, and to disseminate the results of the studies.
The Mediterranean Diet Foundation was member of the FOOD programme from 2011 to 2015.
Step 1: Research and knowledge
Inventory of existing results
During the project phase (2009-2011) and before the creation of the tools and the launch of communication campaigns, the Consortium took several actions to understand what had been done so far in health promotion at the workplace and to determine the needs of both target groups, employees and restaurants.
A detailed inventory of existing programmes related to nutritional interventions was first conducted. This review of existing programmes was carried out in order to understand the initiatives already carried on in the various countries regarding interventions to promote healthy eating through a work setting. The core of the review focused on initiatives targeting balanced food in restaurants and those targeting employees in a company setting.
70 programmes matched the review criteria in the 6 countries and were entered into the study.
It was launched by Asepeyo, the nutrition department of the Blanquerna University targeting its own employees to encourage them to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits. The programme was free to participate in.
It was launched by Barcelona Transports and Roche Farma in 2005 to encourage its 300 employees to eat healthily and take up physical exercise. The programme was free only if the weight reduction objectives were met.
Its aim was to encourage healthy eating habits and exercise amongst Bonduelle’s employees, identifying groups at risk by getting to know their nutritional status. The company used its own expertise to create this three phased programme.
It was launched by CAMPOFRIO (a food company) in 2007. Targeting its own employees, the programme promoted healthy nutrition and helped overweight employees lose weight.
600 employees and their families were encouraged to adopt healthy eating habits and were offered social benefits. The programme was highly visible and included an evaluation plan. The company was fully committed to its success.
The company recognised the advantages of having a healthy workforce that was fully committed, creating a holistic programme dealing with health, nutrition, stress management and physical activity.
The company launched an internal programme targeted at its own employees promoting healthy nutrition and offering them social benefits. The programme aimed to improve employee’s nutritional knowledge, however, the information was only provided about the company’s own products.
It launched a programme targeting its employees and their families. Regular medical check-ups, smoking control, monitoring of weigh and diet were all part of the programme.
Danone launched another programme in 2004 called NUSA – Nutrition and Health. The programme targeted over 350 health professionals in private companies providing them with practical resources and references to improve their theoretical and practical knowledge of nutrition.
It launched a programme targeted at its own employees promoting healthy nutrition. Employees paid to participate and were offered social benefits and expert interventions in nutrition and cooking.
Restaurants and canteens that participated in the programme communicated messages about healthy food via menus, posters and brochures to the employees and clients eating in the restaurants. The programme was funded by Eurest Comedore and supported by the restaurants.
The insurance company Ibermutuamur launched the programme: Health promotion in the work place, through exercise (programa de promoción de la salud en el entorno laboral a través del ejercicio físico) in 2008 for one year.
"programa de promoción de la salud en el entorno laboral a través del ejercicio físico"
A medical team chose the employees with the highest cardiovascular risk that were invited to participate receiving education, evaluation and an activity plan to improve their healthy habits.
The programme was targeting Kellogg’s employees and aimed to improve the corporate image by promoting healthy eating habits and offering staff social benefits. The highly visible programme was regularly communicated to employees also offering nutritional training, healthy breakfast and Ticket Restaurant and / or a fully equipped kitchen.
Nestlé’s Internal Health and wellness programme targeted its employees to encourage them to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits. The free programme was highly visible and included regular check-ups.
Therapeutic Diet was launched by Nestlé España in 2005 for one year to help overweight employees lose weight by adopting healthy habits. Nutritionists and health professionals delivered a strong evidence based communication strategy.
Launched in 2005, it aimed at promoting healthy eating habits amongst its employees also providing them with social benefits. Participants received regular medical check-ups, smoking prevention plans and a diet monitored by regular weight checks.
Healthy breakfasts for employees / Unilever takes care of you (“Desayunos saludables para empleados” / “Unilever te cuida”)
It was launched by Unilever España in 2007, to increase the consumption of fruits and healthy foods at breakfast to better informed employees. Positively, the programme offered access to healthy food yet lacked sufficient education on the subject of healthy food.
BCC (a private practice of nutrition and physical activity experts) and the Catalan Department of Health launched a programme targeting employees to prevent and treat overweight and obesity.
Employees of the companies that signed up to receive BCC services received a newsletter and other printed material regarding healthy nutrition.
One main programme specifically targeted restaurants. The Catalan Department of Health, Fundación Dieta Mediterránea, Restaurants’ Associations and local entities such as City Councils launched AMED in 2006.
The programme took place in Catalonia, targeting employees regularly eating out during the working day promoting healthy nutrition and physical activity. The programme was integrated in public health campaigns promoting the Mediterranean Diet as a healthy lifestyle choice. A limitation was identified: for some small restaurants the project was not seen as an added value and/or priority unlike for big chains and canteens where the project was easily seen as an opportunity.
Private companies offered all of the programmes targeted at employees surveyed here, with a majority of them from the food industry. Despite the fact that Spain is a large country with a tradition of healthy eating based on the Mediterranean Diet, it is clear that the change in eating habits is now a cause for concern evident by the large number of programmes identified. All but one of the programmes was free to participate in and as they were initiated mainly by private companies, the cost could not be estimated.
The programme targeted at the restaurant sector had similar aims to the FOOD project but unlike FOOD was led by a public body only. It was an original programme; the only one of its kind launched in Spain as early as 2006 yet was restricted to the region of Catalonia.
Physical activity was integrated into most of the programmes reviewed.
The review of the existing programmes included in the inventory enabled the partners to draw several common conclusions:
- There was a general lack of evaluation of most programmes
- The projects were not well promoted
- Target audiences were mostly passive
- Low presence of professionals
- Unsuitable tools were created as a result of wrong assessment of the target audience’s
- Lack of visibility and clarity of the tools created
Quantitative and qualitative surveys
First questionnaires for employees and restaurants (2009)
Following the review of existing programmes and based on the main findings, a survey was launched, with two questionnaires: one aimed at restaurants and the other at employees. The survey was conducted in each of the participating countries through Edenred’s network, designed by the CIRIHA and the Institute Paul Bocuse and later analysed by the Research Centre of the Institute Paul Bocuse, in France.
At least 52,000 employees and 5,000 restaurants were targeted by the questionnaires in the six participating countries. A total of 4,529 employees and 399 restaurants responded to the questionnaires, a response rate above the 5% that was anticipated.
507 Spanish employees participated in the first questionnaire, 61% of them female. Less respondents perceived themselves to be overweight or obese compared with the national average, as can be seen in the following graph:
Figure 18: Breakdown of employee reported weight
42.8% of respondents were aware of a programme promoting balanced food. The main source of information for them was through a public initiative (despite the fact that none were mentioned in the inventory). The largest number out of the six countries was interested in receiving more information (93.2%).
Spanish employees have a lunch break every single day reported by 82.3% of them, second only to Swedish respondents. Over half of employees who have a lunch break, eat at home or home brought food. Spain had the largest number of employees reporting to have lunch at home. The main reason given for not eating in a restaurant given by 34.9% of respondents was preferring homemade food. The dishes being energy dense was the second chosen reason. Lack of time was the third determinant mentioned by 16%. Fewest people out of the six countries who eat out chose to eat in a bakery, sandwich bar or fast food restaurant.
Figure 19: Breakdown of lunch places frequented by Spanish employees:
The main determinant in choosing a lunch place was its proximity to the work place followed by offering a quick service. The nutritional quality of the food was the third reason given. The choice of food in the restaurant depended (in line with the other countries), on what the employee wanted at that given time. Appetite was the next common determinant. The nutritional quality of the dish on offer was the third criteria.
Similar to Italy and Sweden, balanced nutrition meant to the majority of respondents: ‘eating pleasant food while protecting your health’. The second most chosen definition was: ‘various foods in moderate amounts in a nice environment’.
In a restaurant menu, The Gustino symbol (the mascot of the ‘Food and Balance’ programme that was promoted to a vast network of Ticket Restaurant ® affiliates) was chosen by over half of respondents to be the best to indicate a balanced healthy dish. Apart from Sweden where most respondents chose the Keyhole symbol, the majority in all the other five countries preferred having the Gustino symbol on the menu.
64 Spanish restaurants responded to the first questionnaire. A daily lunch formula was offered in all but 5% of restaurants surveyed.
Over half of restaurant owners have heard about a national initiative regarding balanced nutrition. The majority read about it in a leaflet with television and radio providing other sources of information. Over 90% of respondents who were familiar with a nutritional plan have applied its recommendations in their restaurants (the largest number of the six countries). Half of those who haven’t applied the recommendations gave lack of time as the main reason. Budget and lack of interest from the client side were the other two reasons mentioned. All respondents however (again the most out of the six countries), acknowledged that they could contribute to their customers’ health.
Figure 20: Respondents’ restaurant classification:
Regarding the knowledge about balanced food, none of the respondents claimed not to know or pay attention to the subject. However, 65.6% (by far the most out of the six countries) claimed to have no knowledge at all. About a third of restaurant owners (second only to Sweden) claimed to have good knowledge of the subject.
Figure 21: Restaurant owners’ knowledge about balanced food
To most of the respondents, balanced nutrition meant tasty food followed by ‘various foods in moderate amount’. Again, second only to Sweden, Spanish restaurant owners claimed to use local products in the dishes. Quality, customer satisfaction and price in this order were the main benefits in the use of local products.
Similar to the employee results, also restaurant owners found the Gustino mascot symbol to be the most appropriate to indicating a balanced dish (chosen by 59.2%). Three quarters of respondents didn’t see any obstacles in promoting balanced nutrition in their restaurants. For 20% of respondents budget would be an obstacle in making changes to the food they offer and lack of demand for such food was an issue for 13.3% of respondents.
The survey results indicate that the employees that took part are interested in healthy eating. Fewer employees than the national average were overweight and only a minority chose to eat fast foods at lunchtime. Nearly all respondents were interested in learning more about balanced food. For the majority of respondents balanced food had positive connotations and was related to protecting one’s health.
The majority of restaurants that participated in the survey were independently run. They all showed interest in healthy food yet a large number of them had no knowledge of the subject.
The third that had knowledge of balanced food and were aware of such national programmes, also implemented the recommendations in their restaurants. All the restaurants were willing to act to improve on their customers’ health.
Restaurant qualitative survey
In parallel with the quantitative survey, a qualitative restaurant study has been conducted in 2009. This survey was conducted in twelve countries (Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom) and five restaurants were chosen in each country. The aims of the survey were to understand how and why chefs cook the way they do, and what could trigger a change in attitude. The next stage was to try and convince restaurants that cooking healthily has many benefits with no additional costs.
The five restaurant owners interviewed in Spain offer traditional Spanish food. Variety and quality were important to all of them, rather than quantity. They were aware that quality produce is more expensive and would be willing to offer it as long as there is a demand for it from their customers. All of them used local produce in their cooking. They also use olive oil, as this is an important ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. They would consider limiting the amount of fat they use but will not stop using it completely. Using steam in the cooking was a potential method to be considered to reduce the amount of fat in the food.
A few restaurateurs noticed change in demand for healthy food and a few were making changes to their offer. Demand from their customers for all of them would be the only incentive to make changes to the food they offer.
Step 2: Recommendations
Following a consolidation of the results from the first survey of 2009 and the inventory, experts outlined a set of recommendations targeted at restaurants and employees.
The purpose of these recommendations was to offer tangible and practical advice to help both target groups adopt healthier nutritional habits.
Despite the intention of some partners to have only common European recommendations, each country decided to adapt the recommendations to its local cultural habits. Following further consultation on national level, the partners accepted six common European recommendations to employees and one to the restaurants.
The Spanish recommendations for healthy and balanced eating were based on the Mediterranean Diet, a dietary prudent pattern, with a plant-base core, that has substantial scientific evidence of its health benefits. It is characterised by advocating consuming an abundance of fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereals and nuts, the use of olive oil, the frequent consumption of fish, the moderate consumption of dairy products and the low consumption of red meat and simple sugars. The Spanish partners developed their recommendations using the Mediterranean dietary pattern as a framework.
General nutritional recommendations were formed to educate employees about their needs in terms of the various nutrients.
- Fat consumption: These days food contains too much fat. Reducing the intake of fat in the diet, mainly saturated fats from animal origin (fatty meats, cold meats, cream and butter), will help in improving health without putting on weight. Saturated fats raise cholesterol levels in the blood and increase the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
- Food rich in fibre: Fibre is found in foods of plant origin and mostly in vegetables, cereals, fruit and dried fruit. Consuming fibre-rich food increases intestinal strength, improves the glucose levels in the blood and helps cholesterol reduction to prevent diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. In addition they have a filling effect and help with weight control. It is advisable to consume about 25 grams of nourishing fibre on a daily basis by the varied consumption of fruit, vegetables and cereals.
- Carbohydrate consumption: Carbohydrates are the building blocks of food. Cereals are carbohydrate-rich foods (bread, rice and pastas), as are potatoes and vegetables. They provide a good source of protein if combined with vegetables. They give a filling sensation and are reasonably priced allowing one to eat better cheaply.
- Hydration: We should drink 1.2 to 2 litres of water on a daily basis in order to replace lost fluids from our body and to maintain a suitable state of hydration. One should avoid the consumption of sugary drinks and juices with added sugar as a substitute for water because the excessive consumption of these sugars increases the number of calories therefore contributing to weight gain.
Recommendations for employees
- Always taste the food before adding salt.
- Choose water to accompany your lunch.
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
- Try to make fruit or low fat dairy products the usual desserts.
- Choose cooking techniques that do not add an excessive amount of fat.
- Prioritise the consumption of cereals and whole-grain products, such as whole-grain bread.
- Increase the consumption of legumes, fish and eggs as an alternative to the consumption of meat, especially red meat.
- Choose the menu ensuring the presence of vegetables, especially as a first course or if not, as a garnish.
- Take care with the size of portions. Eat only what you need, no more no less.
- During breaks, avoid snacking on food with a lot of fat, salt or sugar (for example, salty snacks or sweets).
Recommendations for restaurants
The Spanish partners have created their recommendations based on the typical Spanish cuisine and Mediterranean cultural habits. One of their main aims is to encourage a reduction in the consumption of meat, as most employees tend to have meat with their lunch. The recommendations to the employees are based on the principles of the Mediterranean diet. Employees are encouraged to consume more fruit and vegetables and use olive oil rather than fats from animal origin in their diet.
Only seven recommendations have been formed for restaurants, the fewest out of the six countries, potentially making this an easy target for the Spanish restaurants. Only the first recommendation (the common one) is to do with cooking methods. The others are mainly to do with the way the food is served and presented to the customers. This should make it easier for restaurateurs to apply the recommendations.
- At least a third of first course dishes should be based on vegetables.
- Vegetables should be offered as a garnish on second course dishes.
- There should be a minimum of one fish dish option for the second course. There should be a minimum of one white meat option (chicken, turkey, rabbit etc.) or an eggs option for the second course. These options should be prepared without meat products (such as sausages or bacon).
- At least one of every three dessert options should be fresh fruit (whole or prepared, for example, fruit salad).
- At least twice a week, a first course dish of legumes should be offered, cooked mainly with food of plant origin (for example, vegetables or rice).
- Culinary preparations should be included that do not require the addition of a large amount of fat (cream, lard, margarine, butter or a large quantity of oil) and food cooking techniques should be used such as steaming, baking, grilling, sautéing, griddling, etc.
- Virgin olive oil should be offered for the dressings.
- Wholemeal bread should be offered as an alternative to white bread.
- When the diners sit down, they should be offered a jug of water on the tables. Salt cellars should not be within the reach of customers, they should be offered only when requested.
- There should be the following options:
- the traditional menu;
- the option to choose two first courses (and dessert);
- the option to choose a half menu: one plate chosen from the first and second course dishes (and dessert); or whole menus based on half portions.
Criteria to respect in order to be part of the FOOD restaurants’ network
Following the creation of the FOOD recommendations for restaurants, a network of restaurants respecting a certain number of recommendations was created.
In Spain, restaurants have to apply 6 out of the 12 recommendations in order to be part to the FOOD restaurants network.
To see the map of the entire network of FOOD restaurants, click here
Step 3: Communication strategy
The road show (2009)
The communication campaign officially started in October 2009 with a ‘road show’ in the six participating countries. A double-decker bus customised with the FOOD colours drove through the main city of each of the six countries of the project phase. The journey started in Paris and then continued on to Brussels, Stockholm, Prague, and Milan ending in Madrid. These one-day stops enabled the partners to showcase the first tools created and to explain the project objectives and actions.
Spain marked the successful end of the European tour with the FOOD bus arriving there on October 27th.
More than 1500 visitors came and took part in the activities organised by the local partners: AESAN, FDM, FOOD PRO FIT and Edenred.
The lower platform of the bus was dedicated to the FOOD e-learning DVD. To gain access to the bus, each person had first to calculate his or her BMI together with a nutritionist. The upper platform offered seminars every thirty minutes, in which the partner FDM and nutritionists explained to the visitors what a balanced diet is and how it can be achieved.
Visitors could also savour many Mediterranean specialties prepared by the Chef Mario Barrero as well as different and original and delicious juices to add variety to breakfast such as a popular mix of carrots, oranges and strawberries.
Finally, people were invited to try a 10kg vest, aimed at demonstrating the impact of excess weight on the body.
The event was a huge success, which confirmed the need for this kind of information to be passed and sensitised.
Along the project and programme phase, several communication tools targeting both target groups were created:
See the Communication tools for employees
Step 4: Evaluation
Second questionnaires for employees and restaurants (2010)
A second survey was conducted in 2010 to try and evaluate the first stage of the project and the success of the tools. At this point the project had achieved many of its targets. Nutritional recommendations had been formed in each country for both the restaurants and the employees and communication tools were created in each country and across the whole project. More than 100 communication initiatives were introduced and implemented in the 28 months duration of the project. Especially popular was the website that was visited more than 66,600 times between February 2009 and May 2011.
It was estimated that after 28 months, around four million employees and 195,000 restaurants had been reached by the messages of the project.
The evaluators pointed out to several difficulties encountered regarding the survey questionnaires, in particular the fact that the questionnaires ended up being very long due to need to assess several types of national interventions, possibly resulting in fewer responses.
Outcomes and impacts on a European level were analysed by the Centre of Research of the Institut Paul Bocuse.
The questionnaires have reached a minimum of 52,000 employees. It is hard to say in which way the project had impacted on employees’ choice of balanced food as the general objective was to sensitise and provide this target group with the information needed to help them make healthier choices. Nevertheless, an important result from the 2010 survey was that 59% of employees were in favour of eating healthily at lunchtime meaning that this continues to be an important target group.
From the restaurant perspective, at least 5,000 establishments were reached via the questionnaires. Very positively, after a few months, more than 1,760 restaurants joined the FOOD restaurant network following national recommendations despite the fact that the interventions targeted at the restaurant staff took place quite late in the project. This short time frame could also offer an explanation to the second survey’s pretty low awareness results from restaurants (only 10% of respondents were familiar with the project’s objectives), yet the results indicated that 51% of them saw the value in serving healthy meal.
Therefore, continued support from programmes such as FOOD is needed to further increase the demand for this kind of food/meals by the customers and to increase the number of restaurants offering it.
On top of the many actions and tools created and implemented and the creation of the FOOD restaurant network a further achievement of the project is the creation of a successful partnership between the public and private sectors.
Employee questionnaire results
757 employees responded to the second questionnaire, more than in 2009. The breakdown of employee weight was identical to the 2009 results. 58% declared being of normal weight, 31% overweight and 9% obese. 20% of the respondents perceived their diet to be healthy and 64% claimed to eat rather healthily. Only 6% either eat rather unhealthily, unhealthily or don’t think about the healthfulness of what they eat.
24% of respondents were aware of the FOOD project out of which 4% were familiar with its contents. Most were acquainted with the project through the Ticket Restaurant booklet advertising.
‘Various foods in moderate amount, in a nice environment’ was for the majority of employees the best definition for balanced food. This is different to the 2009 result were most people chose ‘eating pleasant food while protecting your health’. This was now chosen by only 35.7% of respondents. There is a shift toward acknowledging that balanced food should be varied and that the environment in which it is eaten is also important. It is positive and confirms the fact that Spanish employees are concerned with the healthfulness of their diet.
The majority of respondents have had a lunch break every day (or almost every day) during the working week (74%), yet the number has gone down compared to the 2009 results with more respondents having a break less frequently or never.
88% of respondents, who had a lunch break, had it in at least one type of restaurant, the highest result out of the six countries. For those not eating out the main reason remained preferring home cooked food. Restaurants offering energy dense foods or not catering to specific dietary requirements were the other two reasons mentioned.
When choosing where to eat, offer of varied meals was now the most important determinant, followed by proximity to the workplace and offer of a quick service. The price and affordability of the meal was only rated 6th by the respondents.
The biggest factor in this survey when choosing what to eat at lunchtime was the balance of the dish (chosen by 67%, compared with only 22% in 2009). Only 39% of respondents now chose ‘What I want at that present time’. This indicates a positive trend toward awareness of nutritional issues.
In the last year, 35% of respondents claimed to have made some changes to their diet. Another 21% were considering making changes and 21% more claimed to already be eating according to the recommendations.
In order to promote the FOOD project with Ticket Restaurant users Edenred Spain placed various advertisements in the Ticket Restaurant booklets which were distributed among approx. 170,000 users in Spain. These detailed the recommendations and the FOOD webpage. As a result Spain noted a large increase in the visits to the Spanish part of the main FOOD webpage.
Restaurant questionnaire results
61 restaurants in Spain responded to the second questionnaire, the largest number out of the six countries. Spain is the only country in which a majority of restaurants do not offer a daily lunch menu (59%), unlike the 2009 result.
Regarding the knowledge of balanced food, 21% respondents claimed to have good knowledge. 53% would have liked more information and 75% were willing to learn more. Only 5% of respondents were not interested to learn more with lack of time and budget given as the main reasons.
13% of respondents have seen the FOOD logo before but only 7% were aware of the project’s contents. The restaurant owners who were familiar with the project displayed a good understanding of the recommendations.
Approximately 65% of respondents have either made changes based on nutritional recommendations in the past 12 months or were considering making changes. The most frequently mentioned reason for not applying the recommendations were either the perception that the offer already complied with them or that the restaurateurs have not thought about applying them. Despite the fact that there has been a slight increase in the demand for healthier dishes, smaller portion sizes and nutritional information by customers, the majority of restaurants have not acknowledged this change.
The positive trend observed in the first survey regarding employee attitude toward healthy food is also evident in the second survey. Despite the fact that less employees have the time to have a lunch break each day, the majority who eat out now choose the restaurant based on the food on offer. This was also evident by the fact that for most employees, balanced food is connected to the variety of food offered, its quantity and where it is to be consumed.
From the restaurant survey results, it seems that restaurants are less concerned with health issues. The majority do not offer a special menu at lunchtime or have noticed an increase in the demand for balanced food. Positively however, more than half of them had either made or were considering making changes to the food they offer in line with the recommendations.
The FOOD barometers (since 2012)
Questionnaires inspired from the 2009-2010 surveys, called the FOOD barometers, are launched every year since 2012 to monitor the evolution of the habits and opinions of both target groups – employees and restaurants - about balanced food.
Step 5: Adaptation and dissemination
The data collected during the evaluation allows the partners to adapt the communication strategy to employees and restaurants’ needs and expectations. This is a continuous improvement of the programme, its messages and communication tools.