Progress Evaluation for the Restaurant Industry Assessed by a Voluntary Marketing-Mix and Choice-Architecture Framework That Offers Strategies to Nudge American Customers toward Healthy Food Environments, 2006-2017
Consumption of restaurant food and beverage products high in fat, sugar and sodium contribute to obesity and non-communicable diseases. We evaluated restaurant-sector progress to promote healthy food environments for Americans. We conducted a desk review of seven electronic databases (January 2006–January 2017) to examine restaurant strategies used to promote healthful options in the United States (U.S.). Evidence selection (n = 84) was guided by the LEAD principles (i.e., locate, evaluate, and assemble evidence to inform decisions) and verified by data and investigator triangulation. A marketing-mix and choice-architecture framework was used to examine eight voluntary strategies (i.e., place, profile, portion, pricing, promotion, healthy default picks, priming or prompting and proximity) to evaluate progress (i.e., no, limited, some or extensive) toward 12 performance metrics based on available published evidence. The U.S. restaurant sector has made limited progress to use pricing, profile (reformulation), healthy default picks (choices), promotion (responsible marketing) and priming and prompting (information and labeling); and some progress to reduce portions. No evidence was available to assess progress for place (ambience) and proximity (positioning) to promote healthy choices during the 10-year review period. Chain and non-chain restaurants can apply comprehensive marketing-mix and nudge strategies to promote healthy food environments for customers.