This research will expand, implement and evaluate a restaurant-based incentive program that provides funding to schools to support school Wellness Initiatives (such as physical activity, nutrition education, and healthier lunch programs) while encouraging and rewarding healthy eating behaviors in restaurants at the same time. This project represents the first study ever to explore the use of incentives to schools as a vehicle fo increasing healthful behaviors of children and families. This proposal builds on previous SBIR grants awarded by CDC and NIH to the applicant company, HEALTHY DINING. The goals of the Phase II REWARDS PROGRAM include: 1) expanding the REWARDS PROGRAM to schools and restaurants throughout California; 2) measuring increased awareness and participation by families in the program, restaurant sales generated by the school promotions, and funds made available from the restaurants to the schools for the Wellness Initiatives; and 3) developing strategies to expand the PROGRAM nationwide during Phase III. School district leaders, local PTA and others will help 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 by restaurant sales to help support school Wellness 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 and contributes to the prevention and control of obesity and other nutrition-related health risks in both children and adults.
Obesity and other diet-related conditions are repeatedly linked to lack of physical activity, eating at restaurants and fast-food chains, and other behavior which public health experts are attempting to influence. This project addresses these issues both in schools and at restaurants with an innovative new approach of using restaurant funds coming from school-based promotions to help raise funds for programs within the schools designed to help improve children's health.