Healthy foods at catered events

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Expert Opinion

Strategies with this rating are recommended by credible, impartial experts but have limited research documenting effects; further research, often with stronger designs, is needed to confirm effects.

Health Factors  
Date last updated

Healthy foods can be offered at catered events in many ways; for example, providing more fresh fruits and vegetables, smaller portions, low fat, and reduced sodium or reduced sugar food options.  

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Improved dietary choices

  • Improved nutrition

  • Increased access to fruits & vegetables

  • Increased fruit & vegetable consumption

What does the research say about effectiveness?

Offering healthy foods at meetings, conferences, and catered events is a suggested strategy to improve dietary choices and nutrition1, 2. Ensuring access to fresh fruits and vegetables at workplace meetings and events is also a suggested strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption3. Available research suggests that increasing healthy options at meetings and catered events influences healthy diets, especially in combination with other interventions supporting a healthy workplace environment42, 5, 6. At conferences and meetings with a food buffet line, presenting healthy food options first and less healthy options at the end of the line can increase the likelihood of selecting healthy food7. Additional evidence, including studies focused solely on offering healthy food at workplace events, is needed to confirm effects. 

Market research shows a promising demand for healthy catered options at workplaces8

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated no impact on disparities likely.
Implementation Examples

Businesses, employers, and government offices around the country are serving more healthy foods at their catered events and meetings. As of 2017, over 80 organizations, institutions, and companies have taken the Healthy Meeting Pledge to adopt healthy meeting practices9. Many universities have also developed guidelines for offering healthy foods at meetings, seminars, and catered events, including the University of Minnesota10 and University of California, Berkeley11.

Implementation Resources

CSPI-Healthy meetings - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Healthy meetings.

CDC-Workplace health - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Workplace health promotion: Resources, tools, and programs.

WI DHS-Worksite Wellness - Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Worksite wellness resource kit.

Vidant Health 2012 - Vidant Health. Event planner tool kit: Guidelines for providing healthy foods and beverages at company-sponsored events. Coral Spring: Vidant Health; 2012.

WorkWell-Healthy meetings - Work Well NC. Healthy meetings guide: Eat Smart North Carolina: Guidelines for Healthy Foods and Beverages at Meetings, Gatherings and Events.


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1 WIPAN-Worksites - Wisconsin Nutrition and Physical Activity (WIPAN). What works in worksites.

2 Larson 2009 - Larson N, Story M. A review of environmental influences on food choices. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. 2009;38(1 Suppl):S56-73.

3 CDC-Fruits and vegetables 2011 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Strategies to prevent obesity and other chronic diseases: The CDC guide to strategies to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. DHHS); 2011.

4 Watts 2016 - Watts AW, Laska MN, Larson NI, Neumark-Sztainer DR. Millennials at work: Workplace environments of young adults and associations with weight-related health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2016;70(1):65-71.

5 Backman 2004 - Backman DR, Carman JS, Aldana SG. Fruits and vegetables and physical activity at the worksite: Business leaders and working women speak out on access and environment. Sacramento: California Department of Health Services (DHS), Public Health Institute; 2004.

6 Glanz 2004 - Glanz K, Yaroch AL. Strategies for increasing fruit and vegetable intake in grocery stores and communities: Policy, pricing, and environmental change. Preventive Medicine. 2004;39(Suppl 2):S75-80.

7 Wansink 2013a - Wansink B, Hanks AS. Slim by design: Serving healthy foods first in buffet lines improves overall meal selection. PLOS ONE. 2013;8(10):1-5.

8 Geissler 2010 - Geissler GL. Healthy food at work? An examination of a proposed catering service concept. Journal of Food Products Marketing. 2010;16(4):350-60.

9 CSPI-Healthy meetings - Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Healthy meetings.

10 UMN-Story 2008 - Story M. Guidelines for offering healthy foods at meetings, seminars and catered events. Minneapolis: School of Public Health, University of Minnesota; 2013.

11 UC Berkeley-Healthy meetings - University Health Services Tang Center. Healthy meetings & events. University of California, Berkeley.