Rewarding food businesses that promote healthier and sustainable eating: Lessons learned from the Bristol Eating Better Award evaluation

Many local authorities and community groups are launching voluntary healthy catering award schemes and are working with food venues, as part of a complex system, to promote healthier out-of-home environments. Drawing on co-produced research from the Centre for Exercise, Nutrition & Health Sciences (ENHS) and Bristol City Council’s Public Health team this new report highlights findings and policy implications from the evaluation of the Bristol Eating Better scheme.

The evidence-based recommendations can be used to support local authorities (environmental health, trading standards, sustainability, and public health teams) throughout the United Kingdom that are planning, developing, or currently delivering such schemes to encourage food business participation to provide healthier and more sustainable food for consumers.

How the evidence informs policy and practice

The popularity of award schemes that promote a healthier food provision by out-of-home establishments is increasing. Award schemes promoting healthier and more sustainable food should incorporate food businesses’ views from the beginning to enhance engagement with the scheme and implementation of changes. Our evidence provides important insights for planning and delivering such award schemes.

  1. Rewarding good practice is important, but award schemes should target those businesses most in need of change
  2. The online award system and logo should be adapted to appeal to the businesses most in need of change
  3. Award schemes should help businesses tackle barriers regarding change in food provision
  4. Award-holding businesses should be promoted to increase the prestige of award schemes

They found that the top 5 changes committed to by businesses were:

  • All staff have read the Eat Well Guide and are able to explain & promote healthier options
  • We identify all products/ dishes that are ‘low’ sugar
  • We display sugar content against items which are ‘high’ in sugar
  • We are breastfeeding-friendly and have signs up reflecting this
  • We try to buy food that only uses sustainably sourced palm oil

Read the research summary which includes policy implications and case studies.

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