A Community-Based Restaurant Initiative to Increase Availability of Healthy Menu Options in Somerville, Massachusetts: Shape Up Somerville

New Balance Chair in Childhood Nutrition, John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, 150 Harrison Ave, Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.
Preventing chronic disease (Impact Factor: 1.96). 08/2009; 6(3):A102.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Environmental factors at the community level may play a role in the development and maintenance of obesity. Because many US families frequently eat meals outside of the home, restaurants are an environmental factor that can affect their health. The purpose of this project was to test the feasibility of a community-based restaurant initiative that targets families and young children.
Somerville, Massachusetts, is an ethnically diverse, densely populated city. Approximately 44% of elementary school children in Somerville are overweight or obese. The restaurant initiative described here was conducted as part of a larger community-based environmental intervention, Shape Up Somerville: Eat Smart, Play Hard (SUS), designed to improve energy balance by making small changes in all aspects of a child's environment.
Restaurant initiative activities were establishing criteria for approval as an SUS restaurant; conducting brief one-on-one interviews with 15 restaurant owners and managers; recruiting restaurants; and monitoring and evaluating restaurants' ability to adhere to the criteria, using questionnaires and site visits.
Establishing approval criteria for restaurants required several iterations and ongoing flexibility. Barriers to participation included lack of time and interest and concerns about potential profit losses. The strategy of publicizing approved restaurants facilitated participation in the program. Twenty-eight percent of actively recruited restaurants participated in the initiative. Approximately one-half of restaurants fully complied with all approval criteria.
Despite limited feasibility, the initiative provided valuable visibility and branding of the intervention within the community as well as lessons for working with restaurants to improve health.

Download full-text


Available from: Sara Folta, Aug 16, 2015
  • Source
    • "Creating a socially responsible image is one way restaurants can profit by providing healthy alternatives. Economos et al. (2009) showed that restaurants want to be perceived as socially responsible when providing healthful menus and highlighting healthier options on a menu board. Royne and Levy (2008) suggested that companies provide healthy products as an effective marketing strategy so that customers have positive reactions through a socially responsible image. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: As customers become more health conscious and governments create legislation requiring restaurants to provide nutrition information, the restaurant industry can no longer ignore demands for healthful eating environments. This study considers providing healthful food options and nutrition information as strategies for creating healthful eating environments at restaurants, and aims to develop a theoretical explanation of consumer reactions to such actions that incorporates perceived corporate social responsibility. Data were collected using a between-subjects experimental design with scenarios. The results show that customers perceive restaurants to be socially responsible when they are provided with healthful foods and nutrition information; highly health-conscious customers react more strongly to provision of healthful foods than their counterparts. Consequently, customers have favorable attitude toward and high willingness to visit restaurants providing healthful foods and nutrition information. Restaurateurs should consider taking such initiatives to entice more customers and develop a socially responsible image.
    International Journal of Hospitality Management 02/2014; 37:29–37. DOI:10.1016/j.ijhm.2013.10.005 · 1.77 Impact Factor
  • Source
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Somerville, Massachusetts, an ethnically diverse, urban community northwest of Boston, presents opportunities and challenges for active living. With a dense street grid, well-maintained sidewalks, neighborhood parks, and existing Community Path, Somerville is very walkable. However, two major surface arteries traverse and bisect neighborhoods, creating pedestrian safety and environmental justice issues. Major goals included promoting increased collaboration and communication among existing active-living efforts; managing the Community Path extension project; encouraging Portuguese-speaking adults to incorporate daily physical activity; leveraging existing urban planning work to establish secure, attractive walking/biking corridors; and embedding active-living messages in everyday life. The Somerville Active Living by Design Partnership (ALbD) successfully created a robust task force that was integrated with citywide active-living efforts, secured resources to increase infrastructure and support for active living, including city-level coordinator positions, and changed decision-making practices that led to incorporation of pedestrian and bicycle transportation priorities into city planning and that influenced the extension of the Community Path. Partnerships must employ sustainability planning early on, utilize skilled facilitative leaders to manage leadership transitions, and engage new partners. Identifying, cultivating, and celebrating champions, especially those with political power, are critical. Working closely with research partners leads to rich data sources for planning and evaluation. Changing the built environment is difficult; working toward smaller wins is realistic and achievable. The synergy of ALbD and other community interventions created a foundation for short-term successes and accelerated political-cultural changes already underway with respect to active living.
    American journal of preventive medicine 12/2009; 37(6 Suppl 2):S386-94. · 4.28 Impact Factor
Show more