Environmental intervention in carryout restaurants increases sales of healthy menu items in a low-income urban setting

Seung Hee Lee-Kwan, Sara N. Bleich, Hyunju Kim, Elizabeth Colantuoni, Joel Gittelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose. To investigate how a pilot environmental intervention changed food sales patterns in carryout restaurants. Design. Quasi-experimental. Setting. Low-income neighborhoods of Baltimore, Maryland. Subjects. Seven carryouts (three intervention, four comparison). Intervention. Phase 1, menu board revision and healthy menu labeling; phase 2, increase of healthy sides and beverages; and phase 3, promotion of cheaper and healthier combination meals. Measures. Weekly handwritten menu orders collected to assess changes in the proportion of units sold and revenue of healthy items (entrée, sides and beverages, and combined). Analysis. Logistic and Poisson regression models with generalized estimating equations. Results. In the intervention group, odds for healthy entrée units and odds for healthy side and beverage units sold significantly increased in phases 2 and 3; odds for healthy entrée revenue significantly increased in phase 1 (odds ratio [OR] 1.16, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08-1.26), phase 2 (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.25-1.41), and phase 3 (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.14-1.70); and odds for healthy side and beverage revenues increased significantly in phase 2 (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.33-1.97) and phase 3 (OR 2.73, 95% CI 2.15-3.47) compared to baseline. Total revenue in the intervention group was significantly higher in all phases than in the comparison group (p < .05). Conclusion. Environmental intervention changes such as menu revision, menu labeling, improved healthy food selection, and competitive pricing can increase availability and sales of healthy items in carryouts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-364
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


  • Environmental approaches to obesity
  • Intervention
  • Low-Income
  • Menu labeling
  • Point of purchase
  • Prepared food sources
  • Prevention research
  • Restaurants
  • Urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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