Using Interactive Technology to Promote Healthier Eating in Restaurants

Period of Performance: 09/30/2013 - 09/29/2014

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Accents on Health, Inc.
San Diego, CA 92123
Principal Investigator

Abstract

DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Obesity and other diet-related risk factors are consistently linked to dining at restaurants and fast-food eateries. This SBIR proposal provides a new and potentially powerful strategy to positively influence healthier ordering behavior when dining out at restaurants. The long-term goal of this proposal is to reduce the nutrition-related health risks associated with eating away from home, including low fruit and vegetable intake and high saturated fat, total fat, sodium and calorie intake. The aim of this project (Phases I and II)is to develop a commercially viable technology platform that will enable restaurants to provide their guests, at the time of ordering, with 1) accurate nutrition information, 2) a selection of dietitia-approved menu choices that meet qualifying nutrition criteria, 3) additional recommendations to reduce the levels of calories, fat and sodium in a majority of standard menu items and 4) personalized recommendations based on restaurant guests'health and nutrition goals. It is hypothesized that ordering behavior can be influenced at the point of sale (in the moment of decision-making) by employing an innovative new technology: an iPad like 'Smart menu'that identifies and promotes dietitian- approved Healthy Dining menu choices through an enticing and easy-to-use platform. All menu items are available for ordering through the Smart menu. Featured sections, however, will include items currently listed on HealthyDiningFinder.com, an eHealth tool funded through CDC's SBIR program. All of the Healthy Dining approved menu options meet nutrition criteria developed by Healthy Dining's team of registered-dietitians, in conjunction with the recommendations of the USDA and other leading health organizations. During Phase I, Healthy Dining will collaborate with Usable Health (developer of the Smart menu system) to will conduct formative research to measure the quantitative differences in consumer selection (ordering behavior) of the Healthy Dining choices while using the Smart menu versus traditional ordering scenarios. We will be implementing the Smart menus featuring the Healthy Dining choices and corresponding nutrition information at three quick-serve restaurant chains (three locations each for a total of nine locations). This project builds on four other SBIRs awarded to Healthy Dining by NCI and CDC.