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Changing the restaurant food environment to improve cardiovascular health in a rural community: implementation and evaluation of the Heart of New Ulm restaurant programme

  • Rebecca Lindberg (a1), Abbey C Sidebottom (a2), Brigitte McCool (a2), Raquel F Pereira (a1), Arthur Sillah (a2) and Jackie L Boucher (a3)...
Abstract
Objective

The goals of the present study were to: (i) describe the implementation of a programme to improve the restaurant food environment in a rural community; and (ii) describe how practices changed in community restaurants.

Design

The intervention included a baseline assessment of all community restaurants (n 32) and a report on how they could increase the availability and promotion of healthful options. The assessment focused on sixteen healthy practices (HP) derived from the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Restaurants. Restaurants were invited to participate at gold, silver or bronze levels based on the number of HP attained. Participating restaurants received dietitian consultation, staff training and promotion of the restaurant. All community restaurants were reassessed 1·5 years after baseline.

Setting

The restaurant programme was part of the Heart of New Ulm Project, a community-based CVD prevention programme in a rural community.

Subjects

All community restaurants (n 32) were included in the study.

Results

Over one-third (38 %) of community restaurants participated in the programme. At baseline, 22 % achieved at least a bronze level. This increased to 38 % at follow-up with most of the improvement among participating restaurants that were independently owned. Across all restaurants in the community, the HP showing the most improvement included availability of non-fried vegetables (63–84 %), fruits (41–53 %), smaller portions and whole grains.

Conclusions

Findings demonstrate successes and challenges of improving healthful food availability and promotion in a community-wide restaurant programme.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email rlindberg@mhif.org
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