Making Healthy Food Choices a Matter of Policy

TMC O2 is an initiative that combines diet and food-labeling systems to address the Texas Medical Center’s high overweight and obesity (O2) rate. The program was developed following a survey of 780 TMC employees that revealed 78 percent are overweight or obese. All 59 TMC institutions are involved in a two-year program, which has the potential to influence regulations related to food packaging, menu listings, school cafeterias and more.

Initial results of the program will be available in early 2018.

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The program’s intervention components, which aim to reduce TMC’s overweight and obesity rate by 20 percent by the year 2020, include:

  • Traffic light labeling on vending machine snacks, designating food as “healthiest” (green), “moderate consumption” (yellow) and “slow down” (red)
  • Traffic light labeling for cafeteria foods
  • Two evidence-based national diet programs, Weight Watchers and IDiet

Outcomes are being tracked, measured and compared across a population that is extraordinarily diverse in age, ethnicity, occupation—even cultural attitudes toward food. As a result, TMC O2 could become a valuable health improvement model for medical institutions and employers nationwide.

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