University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

The Potential Impact of Hospital Cafeterias on Dietary Habits: A Case Study of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics

Phillip M. Warsaw, PhD; Alfonso Morales, PhD

WMJ. 2020;119(2):122-125.

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Background: Recent research indicates that hospitals are serving an increased role in retail food markets. This article examines the potential effects of pricing strategies on consumer behavior at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Methods: Biweekly point-of-sales data from 2015-2017 were collected for the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics’ largest retail cafeteria. T tests were used to identify differences in consumer behavior in response to price changes for bottled water, cheeseburgers, and the salad bar and potential impacts for alternatives.

Results: Purchases of bottled water and salad increased after price decreases were implemented; cheeseburger purchases decreased following the price increase.

Discussion: Foodservice pricing strategies can drive significant change in consumer behavior. However, consumer sensitivity to price changes may affect the financial viability of price-centric approaches.

Author Affiliations: Department of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Mich (Warsaw); Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis (Morales).
Corresponding Author: Phillip M. Warsaw, PhD; 480 Wilson Rd, Room 314, East Lansing, MI 48824; phone 517.353.1916; email; ORCID ID 0000-0003-1686-181X
Acknowledgements: The authors would like to recognize Sarah Schuit, Susan Gaeddert, Ocoee Huss, and Kayla Lewis for their work as research assistants and extend thanks to Megan Waltz, Lisa Bote, and the other members of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Culinary Services team for their support with the analysis provided here.
Funding/Support: This work was supported by a grant from the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Improving Hospital Nutrition through Evidence-Based Implementation of Behavioral Strategies.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
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