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The food, or nutrition environment, is widely believed to contribute to the increasing epidemic of childhood and adult obesity in the United States.
Nutrition environments are the places in a community where people buy or eat food. In order to identify and describe community nutrition environments, there is a need for well-defined and reliable tools to measure these environments, and for trained observers who can use the measures in their communities.
With the support of our funders, we have developed an online training program on the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Stores (NEMS-S) and Restaurants (NEMS-R) for researchers and community advocates and leaders so they can use the tools for research and action in their own communities.
Also on this website, you will find additional NEMS tools, support materials for using any or all of the tools in your community, and NEMS related materials that other NEMS users have shared.
NEMS NEWS and Exciting Updates
The LiveWell EatWell Restaurant Challenge in Lawrence, KS
LiveWell Lawrence began the LiveWell EatWell Restaurant Challenge in late 2010. To date, 17 restaurants have accepted the challenge to offer healthy options for restaurant patrons. The program is managed and sustained by a WIC nutritionist at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department. The initiative rewards participating restaurants by promoting them and featuring their menu offerings in short stories posted on WellCommons, an award-winning community-journalism website that empowers local consumers and community health advocates reporting on and communicating about health and well-being issues that impact residents of Douglas County, Kansas.
To understand the relationship of food environments to eating and weight patterns, researchers need to examine accessibility of restaurants, but also factors that are believed to contribute to food choices in restaurants, including availability of more healthful foods, factors that facilitate or hinder healthful eating, pricing, and signage or promotion of healthful and unhealthful foods. As the program was originally designed, restaurants qualify for recognition by LiveWell required meeting several criteria including but not limited to the following: offering fresh, frozen or canned fruit; entrées prepared with lower-fat method (baked, steamed, poached, broiled or barbecued); offering smaller servings of entrées; offering lower fat or sugar free dessert options on menu; and providing a substitute for fried side dishes (e.g., side salad, vegetables, pasta salad or fresh fruit). This original program design is being modified as a result of an evaluation activity supported by the 2012-2013 CDRR grant. That activity resulted in the assessment of 56 Douglas County restaurants, including 17 that are currently participating in the LiveWell EatWell Restaurant Challenge. The assessment was completed using the nationally recognized Nutrition Environment Measures Survey for Restaurants (NEMS-R), which was recommended by the Dr. Anthony Randles, KDHE Physical Activity and Nutrition Program Manager. The NEMS-R assessment activity targeted current and prospective participants in the LiveWell EatWell Restaurant Challenge. As part of the 2012-2013 CDRR NEMS-R activity, a NEMS-R assessment report will be produced and provided to the 56 Douglas County restaurants evaluated in 2012. The analysis will summarize restaurant practices that facilitate or create barriers to healthful dining. The report will also identify opportunities for improvement in healthy dining.
Among EatWell restaurants, scores on the NEMS-R assessment ranged from a high of 17 to a low of 3 (excluding points allowable for kids’ menus, which not all participating restaurants had). Higher NEMS-R scores are associated with health promoting restaurant environments. 24% (4 of 17) of EatWell restaurants scored 10 or higher: Jason's Deli (17), Carlos O’Kelly’s (15), Applebee's (13) and Bambino's (10).
We would like to share with others all of the exciting news and activities that relates to NEMS, whether it is a project update, a publication, grant funding, customizations, etc. Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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NEMS is funded with support from the National Institutes of Health, the United States Agricultural Department, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Georgia Cancer Coalition and the Center for Health Behavior Research at the University of Pennsylvania.
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