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Localizing healthy-eating education

secondburgerA one-size-fits-all approach to addressing unhealthy eating habits in the United States may not be a realistic fit for most. And so, much conversation at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting this year has centered on conducting healthy-eating education at the local level.

An APHA blog post describes some noteworthy nutrition advocacy initiatives taking place in rural, urban and diverse socioeconomic communities and reports on their effects so far. Efforts have included engaging local media, such as editors of rural newspapers, to comment on the reach of nutrition-related stories. Other programs look to restaurants to encourage healthier eating behaviors. As described in the post:

[Michelle Ramos, MPH,] and her colleagues set out to bring healthier diets to East Harlem, a low-income neighborhood with some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in New York City. The community also has an extremely high density of fast food and take-out restaurants.

Researchers attempted to change attitudes with the Healthy Plate for a Healthy Weight initiative, in which restaurant owners were asked to give instructional, bilingual plates — inscribed with nutritional guidelines — to each customer. While many customers didn’t use the plate, 75 percent of those who did reported eating smaller portions, while 100 percent reported eating more vegetables.

A second part of the initiative, called Save Half For Later, called upon restaurant servers to ask customers: “Would you like to save half your meal for later?” If customers answered yes, servers would wrap half the selection in a to-go box.

The entire entry is worth a read.

Previously: Using hip hop to teach children about healthy habits, Nutrition and fitness programs help East Palo Alto turn the tide on childhood obesity, Should the lack of access to good food be blamed for America’s poor eating habits?, Can moderate behavior revisions add up to better health? and Could food taxes or subsidies promote healthy eating habits?
Photo by SteFou!

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