programs or initiatives launched within a specific time frame; the rate of compliance with stated commitments, such as the implementation of calorie-controlled portions of product lines, enhanced labeling, or the provision of more nutrition information (e.g., on the basis of statistically relevant samples of products or the numbers of consumers reached); and the percentage of the corporate product portfolio that comprises healthful products (UNESDA, 2005).
Evaluations of healthier options at full serve restaurants and QSRs are challenging but are certainly needed, given that consumers are eating out more frequently. Glanz and colleagues (2005) propose four indicators that may be useful as a means of assessing the availability of healthier choices: healthy main dish options (e.g., low-fat, low-calorie, and healthy salads as main dishes); the availability of fruit (without added sugar or sauce); the availability of nonfried vegetables (and vegetables without high-fat sauces); and portion sizes (e.g., the availability of small portions and the absence of supersizing). Other data useful for the assessment of changes in the restaurant sector include the expansion of healthier menu options, visual assessments of how nutrition information is provided at restaurants, and interviews with restaurant staff (Glanz et al., 2005).
Food retailers could be evaluated on the basis of such outcomes as the nutritional contents of their packaged and processed foods, whether food retailers have made label information more accessible and understandable for consumers, the proportion of in-store promotions and shelf space devoted to healthful snack foods, reductions in the extent of display area for sweets and other foods that do not contribute to a healthful diet at the check-out counter, and increases in the amount of in-store information and advice about healthful eating made available to customers (Dibb, 2004).
Public-sector initiatives need to be explored at the federal, state, and local levels that would support industry efforts and may include public recognition, company awards for excellence, competitions, and performance-based tax breaks (IOM, 2006). The committee concludes that it is essential for government and nonprofit organizations to encourage and incentivize companies to support the evaluation of obesity prevention interventions. Government and nonprofits should acknowledge the companies that demonstrate leadership and strategic commitment and collaborate with the public health community on undertaking evaluations. Government agencies could also provide technical assistance to ensure the consistency of these efforts with evidence-based nutrition guidelines and assistance with the monitoring of compliance and the dissemination of the results. Similarly, industry trade associations, such as GMA, could work with government or nonprofit partners to develop or institutionalize formal guidelines, promising practices, competitions, incentives, or recognition programs that encourage its corporate members to develop and promote food and beverage products that