This research will develop, implement and evaluate a restaurant-based incentive program that promotes and rewards healthy eating behaviors in restaurants and at the same time, provides funding to schools to support fitness and healthier lunch programs. This project will make an important contribution to the prevention and control of obesity and other nutrition-related diseases in both children and adults. It represents the first study ever to explore the use of incentives to schools as a vehicle for increasing healthful behaviors of children and families. This proposal builds upon previous SBIR grants awarded to the applicant company, HEALTHY DINING, funded by both the CDC and NIH. The goals of the REWARDS PROGRAM include: 1) conducting a pilot study with three to five regional schools and three to five restaurant chains located in Santa Barbara, California (Phase I), 2) expanding the REWARDS PROGRAM to schools and restaurants throughout California and three additional states (Phase II) and ultimately 3) developing strategies to expand the PROGRAM nationwide (Phase III). A """"""""tasting extravaganza"""""""" kick-off event will launch the program to stakeholders (principals, administrators, teachers, etc.). School leaders will be tapped to promote the REWARDS PROGRAM to both children and parents through the schools'communication channels. Long term implementation of this REWARDS PROGRAM nationwide will result in significant funding being generated to help support school fitness and healthier lunch programs. Additionally, this proposal has the potential to significantly improve the health of our nation's families, as it will incentivize the availability and selection of healthier choices at restaurants.
By incentivizing local restaurants to offer and promote healthy kids'options and schools to promote these options to kids and families, this project will spur the availability and selection of healthier kids'menu options in restaurants. A related benefit is that funds will be donated to schools for healthy eating and fitness programs when the healthier kids'selections are purchased. As a result, children will be selecting menu items that are lower in calories, fat, saturated fat and sodium, leading to reduced risks of such nutrition-related conditions as obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.