Friday, January 20, 2012

The colors of healthy food

  • Red for the saturated fats and green for healthy food
  • A code classifies the products from the vending machines
  • It is the initiative that has launched the Massachusetts General Hospital
They are in many workplaces. Vending machines with food and drink are an easy resource for food between meals or meal stronger. The problem is that normally are used unhealthy options such as pastries and sweets. However, behind these windows there are more options, maybe not so visible. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (USA) have established a simple and cheap with that have made these machines users opt for healthier products.

    What is the first thing you choose when you go to the vending machine of your work?You might think that this is a voluntary choice, and perhaps capricious. But when choosing a snack should be aware that marketing affects our brain and the products placed at eye level are usually end finally in their hands.

     An example of that can turn the tables without great expense is the initiative that publishes the magazine  'American Journal of Public Health'. . Over nine months, nutritionists and marketing experts from Massachusetts General Hospital (USA) established a series of measures in the hospital cafeteria. The intervention was conducted in two phases. In the first, set a color code for food and drinks. Thus, the products (food or drink) containing more calories and saturated fat had a red sticker, which were at an intermediate level, yellow, and those who were healthier, a green one.

   This measure was added the implementation of some informational signs explaining what the color code meant and how often a product could be consumed for each color and the difference in calories between the two. For example, drinks with a red sticker containing 200 or more calories, whole milk dairy products, or five or more grams of saturated fat per package.

     Six months later, the researchers decided to conduct the second phase of the program that focused on cold drinks, sandwiches and fried preparations. In this sense, we reorganized the five had cooled machines in the cafeteria for healthier products (water, diet drinks and low fat dairy products) is level with the eyes of users,most caloric beverages below of these.In addition, water bottles were placed on all machines, previously only in two of the five existing and five baskets were placed more water next to the food.

     On the other hand, vegetable sandwiches were placed in a visible place, above or at eye level. The potatoes and other fried were located in two adjacent shelves, and put the yellow label over those with red sticker.

      After analyzing the data at the end of follow-up period (nine months) was observed during the Phase I product sales with red sticker fell by 9.2% and red drinks, 16.5%.To this is added the decline occurred during the second phase, 4.9% for males and11.4% for the latter. The green food consumption rose by 4.5% and 9.6% healthy drinks during the first period, promotion followed in the second set of measures with 0.8% and 4% respectively.

   "Our results show that a simple intervention based on color-coded label product salesincreased and decreased health of the least healthy in a cafe in a large hospital without changing the price and variety of products. An intervention on the choice architecture improves the visibility of health products and implemented the effectiveness of such labeling. These initiatives could be transferred easily to other food environments, "say the authors in their study.


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