The Heartbeat Award Scheme: an evaluation of catering practices
The Heartbeat Award Scheme was launched in England in 1990 by the Health Education Authority as part of the national strategy to reduce the incidence of coronary heart disease. To date there has been no formal evaluation of the impact the award has had on catering practices. This study aimed to compare the differences between those premises with and without the award with regard to their catering practices. All Heartbeat premises (497) within the former Wessex region, along with 495 control premises without the award, were sent postal questionnaires. A total of 380 premises with the award and 306 premises without responded, representing a response rate of 77% and 62%, respectively. Respondents were grouped into one of three categories: public eating places, workplaces or educational establishments. Differences were found between award and non-award holders, particularly with regard to the provision of healthy food, including brown rice and semi/skimmed milk, healthy options available to the consumer and commitment to healthy eating. While this research suggests that the award scheme may be increasing consumer choice, it is not possible to draw conclusions about the impact of the scheme on eating habits.