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LiveWell Colorado’s “Take It Home” program starts this week in Denver

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LiveWell Colorado, a nonprofit organization committed to preventing and reducing obesity in Colorado, has joined forces with the Colorado Restaurant Association to kick off the “Take It Home” pilot program, aimed at helping people maintain a healthy lifestyle while eating at their favorite restaurants. Beginning today, four participating restaurants will offer “Take It Home” to-go containers to encourage patrons to think about boxing up a portion of their meal and consuming a balanced portion size.

Four Denver-area restaurants, representing several different cuisine options and price points, are participating in the program, including all three Sam’s No. 3 locations, Elway’s Cherry Creek, Racines and Osteria Marco. Program materials available within the restaurants will encourage guests to consider packaging part of their meal in order to help them mindfully select a portion size that supports their healthy lifestyle.

“Coloradans enjoy eating out, especially since we have so many great restaurant options here in Denver,” said Tracy Faigin Boyle, vice president of marketing and communications for LiveWell Colorado. “The ‘Take It Home’ program encourages people to eat fewer calories at one sitting than they might otherwise by choosing to eat the portion size that is right for them, and enjoying leftovers for another balanced meal. Because we tend to ‘eat with our eyes,’ we can often eat a smaller portion and still feel satisfied.”

A recent report from the National Restaurant Association showed that many restaurateurs want to address the growing obesity epidemic, and smaller portions were cited as a growing trend among the industry.

“Our goal in supporting this campaign is to remind people that you can eat out and be healthy at the same time – people don’t have to choose between the two. This program serves as a reminder not to overeat while you are busy socializing,” said Sonia Riggs, chief operating officer of the Colorado Restaurant Association. “Denver has an exciting, vibrant restaurant scene, and we want to help people enjoy it in a mindful, healthy way.”

Research has shown that portions, serving dishes and plate size can significantly alter a person’s perception of how much they consume and result in overeating. Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, conducted a study in which half of the subjects were served a bowl of soup that automatically refilled throughout their meal, while the other half were served soup in normal bowls. The people with the refilling bowls consumed 73 percent more soup than those whose bowls did not refill, simply because they couldn’t tell how much they were actually eating.

The “Take It Home” program will run through March 2014 as a pilot. People who take part in the program will be asked to provide their feedback and will be entered to win a gift certificate from one of the participating restaurants. LiveWell Colorado will evaluate the success of the program and consider expanding it to more restaurants in 2015. For more information on participating locations and additional tips on staying portion conscious, please visit livewellcolorado.org/takeithome.

About LiveWell Colorado

LiveWell Colorado is a nonprofit organization committed to preventing and reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living. Leading a comprehensive approach, LiveWell Colorado inspires and advances policy, environmental and lifestyle changes that aim to provide every Coloradan with access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in the places they live, work, learn and play. LiveWell Colorado’s strategic partners and funders are the Colorado Health Foundation, Kaiser Permanente and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. For more information about LiveWell Colorado, visit www.livewellcolorado.org. “Like” LiveWell Colorado on Facebook or “follow” @livewellco on Twitter.

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