The European FOOD -Fighting Obesity through Offer and Demand- programme was created as a project in 2009 thank to the co-funding of the European Commission (DG SANTE).
Edenred, as lead partner and coordinator, proposed to representatives of Public Health Authorities, Nutritionists, Research centres and Universities in six countries (Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Spain, and Sweden) to form a Consortium of partners.
Slovakia joined FOOD at the very end of the project phase, in 2011. Despite the end of the EU funding in April 2011, the partners decided to take advantage of the actions and results and continued under a long-term programme, to which Slovakia is taking part.
Edenred designs and develops voucher programmes for companies and public authorities. Its flagship product is the meal voucher (or Ticket Restaurant®) which has been in practice worldwide for more than 50 years and is used by more than 43 million people every day in 42 countries.
Meal vouchers can act as a launch pad for effecting a change of employee food and lifestyle habits. Furthermore, the FOOD project – which became a long-term programme - is in perfect harmony with Edenred’s stated corporate social responsibility goals, of which access to balanced nutrition is a key priority. Edenred is responsible for the coordination of the programme and for the dissemination of the information and results.
Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic (PHA SR)
The Public Health Authority of the Slovak Republic falls under the Ministry of Health that controls the provision of public health services in the Slovak Republic. The scope of PHA SR is enshrined in the law on the protection, promotion and development of public health, which establishes the organisation, and provision of public health services in Slovakia. The role of providing public health services is undertaken by PHA SR and 36 regional public health authorities. PHA SR is responsible for implementing national public health programmes. In 1999, the Government adopted the “Programme for the Improvement of the Nutrition of the Population in the Slovak Republic”, a national prevention programme aimed at improving the nutritional status and overall health of the population of the Slovak Republic. This programme, which was updated in December 2008, plays an important role in establishing cooperation and partnerships with a view to promoting a healthier diet among targeted populations.
Step 1 : Research and knowledge
When the two national partners decided to implement the FOOD programme in the country, both agreed on the necessity for fast action while still maintaining rigorous quality. Thus, the first step of the project, namely the inventory of the existing programmes and the surveys (both qualitative and quantitate) were not carried out in Slovakia. Making use of the recent health data of the Public Health Authority, the partners could indeed began the project by defining specific national recommendations and designing a communication strategy aimed at the two main target groups.
The local partners used the studies elaborated by the six original pilot countries to then plan the messages and tools.
Step 2 : Recommendations
The Slovak partners chose to adopt the common recommendations created by the six first countries. They used them and added recommendations complying specifically to local eating habits to enrich these first endorsements.
In forming the national recommendations, the partners chose to respond to the most common dietary deficiencies and over consumption in the Slovak population. For example, salt consumption is higher by 40% compared to the WHO recommendations (5 g/day). Consumption of animal fats is higher by almost 50% compared with the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) and on the other hand fibre intake is only 30% of the recommended dietary allowances in selected adult population groups. Dietary recommendations were created to be practical and easy for the restaurants to implement, and to be easily accepted by consumers to help them achieve the goal of consuming a healthy diet.
Recommendations to the employees
- Taste the food before adding salt and/or try other condiments ;
- Lower the use of fat and referably use vegetal oils ;
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit/begetables perday ;
- As a dessert, choose a fresh fruit based option and sometimes as an alternative, a dairy product ;
- Choose tpes of cooking that do not add too much fat (steaming, roast, grill, etc.) ;
- Chose water to accompany your lunch ;
- Prefer whole wheat or rye bread ;
- With every meal, eat vegetables or fruit ;
- As a drink for lunch preffered to drinking water ;
- Set meals suitable for you. Meals should be varied and should include vegetables, fruits, dried fruits, or meat with low fat ;
- During the day, it is recommended to consume four to five meals in smaller portions. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then, lunch and dinner is the the third important meal. The snack should preferably be fruits and vegetables, limit fatty foods and dishes rich in salt. Banish hunger between meal with for example a small amount of unsalted nuts, dried fruit, olives, slices of wholemeal bread, fresh fruit, fresh fruit juices and low-fat or moderate dairy produts ;
- Daily drink at least 2 liters of fluid. Prefer drinking water than sweetened drinks
Recommendations to the restaurants
- Favour cooking mathods such as steam, oven or grill ;
- Offer the option of half portions of food ;
- Do not put salt on the table ;
- Provide alternatives to the products and dishes bzsed on wholemeal flour, wholemeal pasta and the like. Eg. upon request, serve whole wheat or rye bread ;
- Serve the sauce separately ;
- Allow guests to eat more fresh vegetables, such as to leave room for the salad place, serve salas as a first or serve it directly on the plate ;
- Offer tap water ;
- Put the menu low fat dressing and olive oil ;
- For dessert, serve more fresh fruits, fruit or milk dessert ;
- Offer a choice of different attachments to all foods - even to the daily menu ;
- Offer more meals of meat low in fat, for example : poultry and beef ;
- While eating indicate the energy value in kJ (eg. how many kilojoules are the components of the meal
Criteria to respect in order to be part of the FOOD restaurants’ network
Following the creation of the FOOD recommendations for restaurants, a network of restaurants respecting a certain number of recommendations was created.
In Slovakia, restaurants have to apply 6 out of the 12 recommendations in order to be part of the FOOD restaurants network.
To see the map of the entire network of FOOD restaurants, click here
Step 3 : communication tools
Along the project and programme phase, several communication tools targeting both target groups were created :
Step 4 : evaluation
Questionnaires inspired from the 2009-2010 surveys conducted during the project phase, called the FOOD barometers, have been launched every year since 2012 to monitor the evolution of the habits and opinions of both target groups – employees and restaurants - about balanced food.
Step 5 : Adaptation and dissemination
The data collected during the evaluation allows the partners to adapt the communication strategy to employees and restaurants’ needs and expectations. This is a continuous improvement of the programme, its messages and communication tools.