Does increasing the proportion of healthier options in cafeterias lead to healthier purchasing?

Increasing the proportion of healthier foods available could encourage healthier consumption, but evidence to date is limited in scope and quality. In this study, six English worksite cafeterias increased the proportion of healthier cooked meals, snacks, cold drinks and/or sandwiches available, while aiming to keep the total number of food options constant. Healthier options were defined as those with fewer calories (kcal). When sites offered these changed food options, we found a 7% reduction in calories (kcal) purchased from targeted food categories across all the worksites. However, impact varied across sites, with calories purchased from targeted categories significantly reduced in two sites, but no significant differences observed in the other four sites. No difference was observed in the revenue taken by the worksites when healthier options increased. Overall, increasing the proportion of lower calorie options available in worksite cafeterias seems a promising intervention for healthier consumption. The reasons why this effect was found in some but not all the worksite cafeterias needs further study.

Impact of increasing the proportion of healthier foods available on energy purchased in worksite cafeterias: A stepped wedge randomized controlled pilot trial. Pechey, R., Cartwright, E., Pilling, M., Hollands, G. J., Vasiljevic, M., Jebb, S. A., & Marteau, T. M. Appetite.

Access full text