PhD, executive director of the Anschutz Wellness Center, University of Colorado
“First, I think restaurants have recognized that they have a stake in the nation’s obesity problem. I think the forward-thinking restaurants are recognizing that more and more people are looking for restaurants to provide healthier options while still offering great taste. This challenge — making good-tasting food healthier — provides a great opportunity for creative chefs. Second, many restaurants are beginning to think in terms of making small changes, sometimes not even noticeable to the customer, to improve the nutritional quality of food offered. Third, restaurants are fully committed to providing nutrition information to consumers.
“We have to work both on the supply and demand side. I believe restaurants can take small steps to make good-tasting foods healthier — that is, primarily reducing calories, saturated fat and sodium, while increasing vegetables, fruits, whole grains and unsaturated fats. We will get further by having all restaurants make a few small changes than by a few restaurants making big changes. I think restaurants should be asking how much positive change can be made to popular recipes without losing the great taste. We know taste is key, and we cannot ask restaurants to try to promote healthy foods that don’t taste good.
“At the same time, we need to work on creating demand for healthier items. The community and the media can help, as well. Restaurants that do step out to make offerings healthier should get credit for doing this. The single greatest challenge is obesity, and while we know physical activity is important, so is diet. By helping people make a few changes to eat smarter, we can help reduce obesity.”
Dr. Hill is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. He is the visionary and executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center on the University’s campus and the director of the Center for Human Nutrition. He has published more than 350 scientific articles and book chapters in the area of obesity, focusing on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. Dr. Hill is also co-founder of America on the Move, a national weight gain prevention initiative that aims to inspire Americans to make small changes in how much they eat.