Healthier takeaways

Our award winning project to reformulate takeaway food to make it healthier for consumers

We worked with five restaurants in Lincolnshire to make Indian food healthier after random testing at over 60 restaurants by Trading Standards in 2009 uncovered high levels of salt, saturated fat and calories in many popular takeaway dishes. In some cases, salt content was as high as 12g per dish (the daily recommended limit is 6g).

Kelly at Social Change set up a task force made up of professionals from national, regional and local organisations to jointly assess how the takeaway and small business sector can help turn the tide on obesity. Lincolnshire was chosen as the local pilot site and research with the restaurant industry revealed valuable insights into cooking practices. Research with takeaway customers revealed that many welcomed healthier options to choose on the menu while others just wanted restaurants and takeaways to reduce the fat and salt in their favourite dishes. This research led the task force to take a different approach to tackling this problem.

This project is innovative because we changed the behaviour of those who supply the food rather than directly targeting consumers to ask them to cut down or cut out. Our research told us that most people already know that takeaway food can be unhealthy and we decided to look at ways we can make it easier for people to eat more healthily but still enjoy takeaway food. We felt that if we can work with the industry to help them to produce healthier products for consumers we are one step closer to tackling the impact of a diet high in salt and saturated fat.

The project, described as ‘health by stealth’ set out to change the food and the suppliers – rather than persuade customers to consume less – after research showed many people were unwilling to give up takeaway food, even when told about the fat, salt and calorie content.

This project has featured on television, radio and in several newspapers including BBC Look North and BBC East Midlands, The Sunday Mirror, The Guardian, BBC Lincolnshire, The Lincolnite and the Lincolnshire Echo.

See the BBC video here

A brief guide to the project (leaflet)

Eat In, Eat Out, Eat Healthy: Final Report (2012)

Adjusting your menu - a guide for businesses who want to change their menu

Healthier takeaways