Red Light, Green Light: Innovative Labeling Program Leads To Healthy Employee Choices

Posted by Edith Clogg on 9/09/19


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Everybody’s got to eat, and statistics show that today’s modern workforce spends about half of their waking hours at work. This means that potentially half of the meals they consume within a week are, or could be, provided by onsite dining services and other corporate food providers.

But with onsite convenience, comes the temptation to eat whatever is quick and tasty. Given that most workers keep a tight lunch break and only have a short amount of time available to make eating decisions, they need fast and convenient solutions to encourage optimal eating choices that empower them to maintain a healthy diet and encourage job satisfaction.

New Report Shows “Traffic Light” Labeling Shows Results

New research in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that a “traffic light” approach like the ISS-Gukenheimer Smart Signal™ program, combined with product placement strategies, can help do just that. This approach not only encourages affirmative healthy choices, it also can reduce the overall number of calories purchased, specifically from the least healthful options.


Intuitive Visual Signals Show the Way

Researchers looked at aggregate purchasing data from a large employer in Boston, Massachusetts over a four year time span. After three months of baseline tracking, “traffic light” food labels were implemented: Green indicators were for the most healthful, yellow indicators were for moderately healthy, and red indicators were the least healthful. Product placement strategies, known as “choice architecture,” were also implemented.

Two years after healthy eating guidance signals were implemented, these employees purchased fewer calories at work. Best of all, the largest reduction in calories occurred in the red-labeled category, those that were highest in unhealthy fats and added sugar.  

This is a game changer.


Healthy Choices Benefit Everyone

While any long-term decrease in calories can potentially equate to weight loss over time, data shows that even without weight change, improving the quality of your diet can reduce the risk of chronic disease. 

A large percentage of American workers are categorized as medically obese, and the prevalence of obesity is increasing in all industries, potentially contributing to higher absenteeism and lower productivity. Improvements to the overall health of the workforce could reduce health care costs in the United States by as much as $200 billion, which will translate to lower insurance costs for companies.

Point-of-decision marketing to guide people towards more nutritious choices is especially powerful when combined with food placement that encourages healthful options. In the end, it could help address the rising prevalence of obesity in American workplaces, reducing healthcare insurance costs for employers, and improving productivity and employee retention.



Topics: Employee Engagement, Corporate Cafe, Corporate Dining, food service provider, guckenheimer, Culinary

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