Obesity Research and Education Initiative

Helena Laroche study: Offering healthier foods in concession stands good for both sales and satisfaction

LarocheHelena Laroche, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and a member of the UI Obesity Research and Education Initiative and the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center, was recently recognized in an IowaNow article “Healthy food is good for you–and can sell, too” based on her study published in the Journal of Public Health entitled “Concession Stand Makeovers: A Pilot Study of Offering Healthy Foods at High School Concession Stands.”  The study shows concession stands can benefit from offering healthy foods. In an agreement with the Muskie Booster Club of Muscatine, Iowa, Dr. Laroche and her colleagues studied the effects first, of adding healthy food options and second, of substituting healthier ingredients in commonly sold items, like popcorn and nachos, in  the concession menu.  The "healthy makeover" did not decrease revenue per game.  Sale of the new healthy foods comprised 9% of total revenue.   Both parents and students were happy with the healthy-food choices and enjoyed having them available.

This test of concept shows that offering healthier items can be good for both satisfaction and sales.  While this study was conducted in concession stands, the principles can be extended to other food retail settings.  Dr. Laroche’s study, which included colleagues in Muscatine and at Cornell U, U North Carolina, and U Rochester, has gained interest quickly, being highlighted as a CNN Health Minute’s top story. You can view the CNN broadcast here following a brief segment on another study.