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Healthier Options Food Awards (Buywell) Wellnet


Food businesses were encouraged to apply for a Healthier Options award, which was marked on their menu so that local residents could make informed choices about what to eat. To qualify for the award, local cafes and restaurants reieved advice from a qualified nutritionist.



  • To improve the health of residents in the SOA by increasing the healthy eating choices available to them
  • To empower people to make informed healthy eating choices

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The project built upon the successful pilot project run by Newham Food Access Partnership (NFAP), which ended in December 2008. The NFAP developed the current project after establishing there was a need to highlight healthier food options in cafés in Newham, so residents of the borough could make more informed choices about their diet.

The need for the project was prompted by the rising obesity figures across Newham and the increase in conditions such as heart disease in the borough. It was anticipated that the project would have a positive effect on people living and working in the SOA and would help to reduce long-term conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular health and diabetes.

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HealthWorks in London were briefed to support six businesses through the scheme. This support included:

  • registering the businesses
  • communicating with the cafés throughout the award scheme
  • arranging appointments for the chef trainer to visit each café and supporting the trainer in feeding back to the café
  • supporting the café to access suitable training
  • planning and co-ordinating the award launch events

Each café was given advice from a nutritionist about healthy eating and how they could make small changes to their menus to ensure their customers were given healthier options, but without an increase in cost. Recommendations might include:

  • ensuring vegetables and salads are available with all meals
  • using unsaturated oils and fats
  • using wholemeal and wholegrain bread as well as white
  • offering water and fruit juice in addition to soft drinks

The award is not about making drastic changes to the café menus but more about adding healthier choices and marking them clearly on the menus. Its also about suggesting small changes they could make in their preparation and ingredients, such as reducing salt, introducing low-fat products and offering semi-skimmed milk and wholemeal bread.

Once the café had completed the nutritional assessment they were provided with healthy eating information leaflets and the menus for the cafés were adapted to include the award logo alongside the healthier options. Each café had its own launch event, attended by customers, residents and local councillors, who presented the awards.

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Four cafés have achieved the award so far.

Councillor Clive Furness, Newhams executive member for health, presented a Healthier Options award for Café Rial@the hub in Star Lane, Canning Town, in April 2009 and said: Café Rial has had great success in promoting the healthy eating message to customers. I hope this will be an incentive for other eateries to get involved in the scheme.Anchor House is a homeless hostel in Canning Town that has also won an award. Catering Manager Nada Subramaniam said, I knew that residents would be turned off by big changes to the menu so Ive done little things to make their food healthier. I also change the menu every day so theres lots of variety and nobody gets bored.

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Pre- and post intervention questionnaires were carried out with customers at each café to ascertain their level of understanding in relation to healthy eating and to calculate how much their understanding had changed after the HOFA had been awarded. Customers were given a £1.50 discount voucher as an incentive to complete the questionnaire.

Results from the customer survey are as follows (measured from customers reporting what they had chosen on the day of the questionnaire):

  • Awareness of healthy options Over 50% of café customers in ALL the cafés reported awareness of healthier options.
  • Levels of healthy eating Georges Café: Healthy eating levels remained the same before and after the Healthier Options changes and award (38% eating 5 a day) The Hub Café: Healthy eating levels increased from 18% to 28% eating 5 a day after the Healthier Options changes and award.Divotes Café: Healthy eating levels increased from 20 to 27% eating 5 a day after the Healthier Options changes and award. Anchor House Café: Healthy eating levels increased from 11% to 17% eating 5 a day after the Healthier Options changes and award.
  • Choices The Hub and Georges both saw a 6% increase in the uptake of healthier options. Divotes saw an increased uptake of 27% of healthier options on the menu and Anchor House had a 25% increase in the uptake of healthier options.

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  • Continued support for businesses should be available via follow-up visits at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months. This would ensure the café is able to correctly mark healthier options on their menus themselves
  • Cafés should continue to be provided with healthy eating literature to give to their customers
  • The businesses should be encouraged to invite their own contacts to the launch events

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