10427 The Retailer Autumn 2018_Final Draft Pages
Helping people to eat well at work
NATASHA MAYNARD Nutrition and scientific affairs manager Igd
IN A WORLD FIRST, IGD WORKS WITH THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE TO TEST DIFFERENT WAYS TO HELP PEOPLE MAKE HEALTHIER CHOICES IN WORKPLACE RESTAURANTS In September, research and training charity IGD, launched a new guide for companies to help people eat well at work, culminating from one of the most ambitious studies of its kind for healthier eating in the workplace. Natasha Maynard, Nutrition and Scientific Affairs Manager at IGD explores the link between what we eat and the workplace environment and looks at the opportunities for employers and catering providers to help people eat well at work. Full-time workers consume around a third of their daily calories at work and workplace restaurants have a big influence on dietary habits and health. When we established our Health Eating programme to promote healthy eating nationally, we were determined to include the workplace as one of our activities. We soon found there was little firm evidence to base our recommendations on and so we partnered with the Behaviour and Health Research Unit (BHRU) at the University of Cambridge to test how to help people make healthier choices in workplace restaurants. The experiments, which took place between 2016 and 2018 at 19 workplace restaurants in 14 companies, involved 17,000 people – representing one of the largest experiments of its kind in a real-life setting. STRONG SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYEE WELLBEING Most food and drink companies would agree they have an important part to play in supporting consumer health. Many have shown their commitment to this cause by providing more nutrition information on pack, adjusting recipes to make them healthier, promoting products more carefully and introducing new healthier options. However, as well as supporting consumers, it’s also important that companies consider their own employees. For a full-time worker, consuming around a third of their daily energy intake at work, this environment has a big influence on their diet and wellbeing.
There is growing evidence from behavioural science that the shape of any environment has a major impact on outcomes. Small, sometimes unnoticed changes in how options are presented (sometimes called ‘nudges’) can encourage healthier choices, freely and happily made. This was the thinking behind our experiments. THREE WAYS TO HELP PEOPLE EAT WELL AT WORK Our advice is based on the three areas we tested: • Offer a balanced choice - altering the range to tip the balance in favour of health is a proven route to encourage healthier eating. There is a strong commercial case for getting your offer right on health too. Indeed, IGD’s ShopperVista research reveals nearly one-third (31%) of consumers would eat out more often if healthier options were more available • Reduce portion sizes - most people, in most circumstances, tend to consume more if they are offered bigger portions. Cutting back on portions is therefore an effective approach to help people eat less without affecting taste or choice • Provide calorie information - nutrition information helps consumers make informed choices. But too much information can be difficult to absorb in a restaurant setting so displaying the energy information simply and clearly is the priority OUR RESULTS The research proved that simple changes can make a substantial difference and provided they are managed well, people are happy when changes are made in their workplace restaurant to support their wellbeing. The strongest results, measured by reduction in calories sold, were achieved by adapting the range and reducing portion sizes. Calorie labelling was less conclusive but very popular with consumers at the restaurants involved and we recommend this option to help people make informed choices. HOW TO INSPIRE CHANGE IN YOUR WORKPLACE Ideally, healthy eating should sit as part of a broader health and wellbeing programme, addressing both the physical and mental needs of employees. You will have greatest impact if you address this as part of a longer-term commitment.
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