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Study finds people are willing to eat healthier, at the right price

Reducing the price of the salad bar in the cafeteria of HealthPartners headquarters more than tripled salad bar sales.

MINNEAPOLIS – Mar. 8, 2013 – Salad bar sales by weight more than tripled in March 2012 compared to February, April, May and June of that year, when HealthPartners reduced the price of cafeteria salad bar purchases by 50 percent. HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research analyzed sales data over the five-month period and conducted an anonymous survey to test whether, and to what extent, the decision to eat a salad for lunch was influenced by price.

A typical salad for a HealthPartners employee, weighing 16 ounces, was reduced from $6.08 to $3.04 during the price reduction period. In the survey, 86 percent of respondents said they had increased the number of times a week they purchased a salad for lunch during the special, and in an open-ended question, nearly half of respondents cited the high cost of the salad bar relative to other lunch options as a barrier to eating salad for lunch.

Thomas Kottke, MD, a HealthPartners cardiologist and lead researcher for the salad bar study, says that although people know how important fruits and vegetables are to good physical and mental health, many struggle to get in five servings each day.

“As the Mediterranean Diet points out, we know that salads with nuts, olive oil and vegetables can help reduce cardiovascular disease, so it’s important to choose these healthier options when you can,” Dr. Kottke says. “Having a salad at lunch is a great way to get three out of your five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.”

HealthPartners is a leader, both locally and nationally, in providing a healthy workplace for its employees. In 2012, HealthPartners was recognized as Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal’s Most Awesome Healthiest Employer, and was among the first 12 employers in the United States to earn HealthLead™ accreditation. In response to the study results, HealthPartners is looking into ways to make a discounted salad bar a routine option, likely on a weekly basis.

“HealthPartners is committed to improving the health of our members, patients and the community, and that includes the people who work here,” says Calvin Allen, senior vice president of strategic planning and human resources at HealthPartners. “As a company, we need to walk the talk on health, and that includes supporting healthy lifestyles both inside and outside the workplace.”

One way HealthPartners supports healthy living in the community is with HealthPartners yumPower, an initiative designed to help people find easy and affordable ways to eat better. Find better-for-you recipes, watch cooking videos and get tips for dining out at

About HealthPartners

Founded in 1957, HealthPartners is the largest consumer-governed, non-profit health care organization in the nation. It is dedicated to improving the health of its members, patients and the community. HealthPartners provides a full-range of health plan services including insurance, administration and health and well-being programs. It serves more than 1.4 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide, and is the top-ranked commercial plan in Minnesota. Its Medicare plan has the highest rating (five stars), which only 11 plans in the nation achieved in 2013. Since its combination with Park Nicollet in 2013, its care system includes more than 1,700 physicians; five hospitals; 50 primary care clinics; 21 urgent care locations; and numerous specialty practices in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. In addition, Stillwater Medical Group, part of the HealthPartners family of care, includes 80 physicians serving the St. Croix Valley region. HealthPartners Dental Group has more than 60 dentists and 21 dental clinics. HealthPartners also provides medical education and conducts research through its Institute of Education and Research.