Healthy Dining CEO Shares Insights with Journalists, Health Advocates on Restaurant Industry’s Efforts to Help Reverse Obesity Epidemic

Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, provides presentations at National Press Foundation’s forum on obesity and MDPA’s childhood obesity conference to outline restaurant industry’s initiatives in addressing national health issue

Anita Jones-Mueller, MPH, Healthy Dining’s Founder and CEO, recently joined other industry executives and health professionals in panel discussions on the national health threat of obesity at two conferences – the Marketing Disease Prevention and Awareness’s (MDPA) “Communicating Childhood Obesity Prevention” conference and the National Press Foundation’s “Obesity Issues 2012” program.

As a leading authority on health and nutrition, Jones-Mueller shared her insights at both conferences on the proactive efforts of the restaurant industry and how Healthy Dining, together with its restaurant partners and in collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, are working diligently to contribute to enhancing the overall health and well-being of Americans. Five years ago, Healthy Dining launched its premier restaurant search engine,, through partial funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program.  The recently redesigned website offers a one-stop resource to find dietitian-approved Healthy Dining menu choices from participating restaurants nationwide – spanning fast food to fine dining.

“We are seeing a growing number of restaurants rise to the challenge and create more menu items with health and taste in mind, with an emphasis on lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and unsaturated fats,” said Jones-Mueller. “In the last five years, the number of restaurants offering Healthy Dining-approved choices has quadrupled, to more than 350 companies, and the number of qualifying menu choices has increased by 1000%. That is a big leap forward for public health.”

Jones-Mueller added that the Kids LiveWell Program, developed by the National Restaurant Association in collaboration with Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians, has more than 80 brands that have signed up for the program. “Last summer, we launched the Kids LiveWell program with 19 restaurant companies. Since then, new restaurants are joining almost every week. It is exciting to see restaurants so enthusiastic about pleasing their young guests with healthful fare, and more importantly, showing their commitment to children’s health and well-being.”

The two-day MDPA national conference, held in Silver Spring, MD, brought together government, public health, and academic organizations with private industry and healthcare providers to discuss their respective roles fighting childhood obesity. Jones-Mueller participated in a panel discussion on “How the Food and Beverage Industries Are Helping to Fight Childhood Obesity.”  The National Press Foundation (NPF) program panel, entitled “Reversing the Obesity Epidemic:  Role of Business & Industry,” was part of a four-day fellowship for journalists from across the country, called “Obesity Issues 2012,” presented by the NPF and the University of Colorado’s Center for Health and Wellness.  This program was held at the Center’s new innovative, state-of-the art research, education and patient care facility on the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus.

Healthy Dining has been actively working on a number of groundbreaking initiatives with strategic partners across the country to contribute to enhancing health and reversing the obesity epidemic, including:

  • A first-of-its-kind, statewide health initiative with the State of Mississippi and the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association (MHRA) called Eat Healthy Mississippi.  The CDC’s obesity data trends show that Mississippi has the highest rate of obesity in the nation with 34% of its population classified as obese in 2010. The program is designed to reverse those statistics and to bring together local growers and restaurants, so that chefs can incorporate locally-grown produce and fruits into healthier recipes at restaurants throughout Mississippi. Participating restaurants of the Eat Healthy Mississippi program will be featured on
  • In March, Healthy Dining launched a groundbreaking “Healthy Dining School Wellness Rewards Program.” This program, in its pilot phase, aims to raise money, through Healthy Dining’s restaurant partners, to help schools fund much-needed playground and PE equipment, garden programs, nutrition education and other wellness initiatives. Healthy Dining was awarded funding for the pilot through the CDC’s SBIR Program.

Since its inception, also has launched several other tools and resources, including:  a “Sodium Savvy” platform; a Nutrition News & Insights Resource for Operators newsletter; and a mobile site and iPhone app.  Additionally, Healthy Dining has received six research project awards through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Prior to, Healthy Dining was the established leader in restaurant nutrition, publishing 19 editions of restaurant guidebooks for the Southern California area.

For more information regarding Healthy Dining, visit

About Healthy Dining:

Since 1990, Healthy Dining’s culinary nutrition experts have been guiding and inspiring chefs and restaurateurs to create and serve a selection of Healthy Dining menu options. A leader in restaurant nutrition, the company works with hundreds of restaurants and has analyzed thousands of menu items for nutrient content. In collaboration with the National Restaurant Association, Healthy Dining leads the largest-ever restaurant industry nutrition initiative. Through, the only resource of its kind, Americans can find dietitian-approved, Healthy Dining menu options and view corresponding nutrient information (calories, fat, etc.) for restaurants that span fast food to fine dining, coast to coast. The site is promoted to the growing segment of health- and weight-conscious consumers through employers, health organizations, health insurance companies, weight control programs, fitness centers, the media, and much more. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided partial funding for the development of the initiative.

Katharine Kim
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