Johnson County residents are out and about—often in restaurants. According to the 2012 Johnson County Healthy Foods Survey, 63 percent of residents say they eat out for dinner once a week or more, and 46 percent report eating out for lunch at least once a week. Numerous studies have linked frequent eating out with obesity and other related health conditions. Meals prepared outside the home are often unhealthy, high in fat, sodium and sugar and lack nutritious elements, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Obviously, Grandma’s homemade biscuits and gravy isn’t a panacea of health, but we’re speaking in generalities here. Drawn by the convenience of a quick meal and no dishes, restaurant patrons aren’t necessarily looking for unhealthy food. On the contrary, the survey showed that many are looking for healthier options when they eat out. Here is a snapshot of the findings:
• At least 72 percent of residents surveyed would purchase healthier options if they were more available at restaurants.
• 69 percent of residents felt that promotion of healthy foods in restaurants was a very effective measure to promote healthy eating outside the home.
• 62 percent of residents felt that one of the changes restaurants could make to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables was to add more fruit and vegetable options in place of fries, potatoes and chips.
• 52 percent of residents also felt restaurants could charge the same price for fruit and vegetable options as other sides in order to increase consumers’ consumption of fruits and vegetables.In an effort to take public health to the people—and in Johnson County, they’re in restaurants—LiveWell
Johnson County is launching a voluntary healthy restaurant recognition program. The goal of the program is to help customers easily identify healthier menu items and encourage restaurants to make healthier menu changes, in line with customers say they want. The program also will educate restaurant staff about how to help customers navigate the menu and identify which meals or side options are the healthiest options.
Keep an eye out for a healthy restaurant near you!