- As joint programs, Smart Choice and Healthy Beverage aim to make healthier food and drink options available on the various medical campuses of the University of California, San Francisco.
- Smart Choice created a standardized system for communicating nutritional information, including printing nutrition facts on receipts and labeling healthy choices with a recognizable logo.
- The Smart Choice initiative also partnered with My Fitness Pal to create an app for health tracking to integrate with FitBit wearables.
- Healthy Beverage stopped the sale of all sugar-sweetened beverages on the campuses.
The UCSF medical system has demonstrated a concerted effort to make the food options on its three campuses healthier through two programs introduced in the last few years. In 2009, UCSF implemented Smart Choice, which created a standard system for designating healthy food options sold at UCSF. Nutritional information for all food was printed directly on customer receipts, including carefully calculated information for all recipes prepared on-site. A recognizable “S” symbol was used to mark Smart Choices—healthy options. In 2013, Smart Choice expanded, partnership with the app, MyFitnessPal. The resulting program, called Smart Choice Smart U, allowed for improved fitness and nutrition tracking and included integration with FitBit, a wearable fitness tracker.
In 2015, UCSF also introduced the Healthy Beverage initiative, ending the sale of all sugar-sweetened beverages on its campuses. The idea was to further reinforce efforts to create a healthier food environment for all faculty, staff, students, patients, and community members. People could still bring their own sweetened beverages (i.e., it wasn’t a ban), but the initiative was in part publicized with the express goal of raising awareness for and encouraging healthy decisions even off-campus.
Why It Stands Out
UCSF’s Smart Choice and Health Beverage initiatives represent impressive examples of ways that changes can occur at an institutional level to create an environment conducive to healthy behaviors. Rather than simply asking individuals to make healthier decisions, UCSF actively strived to create a setting in which healthy decisions were more likely to be the default. This is a prime example of what population-level prevention looks like: increasing healthy behavior not only for those already with high health risks, but also for the entire community. UCSF, an employer of nearly 43,000 people in San Francisco and the nearby area, with more than 40,000 hospital admissions and over 1.1 million outpatient visits every year, is no small case study. For behemoths like UCSF, interventions at the institutional level can be readily scalable, reaching hundreds, thousands—maybe even millions—of people.
- “Introducing Smart Choice!!!,” University of California, San Francisco, n.d., http://nutrition.ucsfmedicalcenter.org/smartchoice/index.htm.
- “Healthy Beverage Initiative,” UCSF Campus Life Services – Living Well, n.d., http://campuslifeservices.ucsf.edu/livingwell/services/healthy_beverage_initiative.