Grantee: Columbia University School of Social Work
Principal Investigator: Heidi Allen, Ph.D.
Grant Period: 02/01/2017 – 02/28/2019
This project is funded as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s solicitation, “Engaging Businesses for Health,” which seeks to build the evidence base for private-sector investment to help build a Culture of Health. The goal of this project is to examine whether labeling and incentivizing the purchase of healthy foods changed consumer-purchasing behavior at Walmart and ultimately improved health and lowered health care costs, with the objective of informing policymakers and other businesses considering similar approaches. In 2012, Walmart began labeling foods that met strict criteria for nutrition and health with bright green labels and the words "Great For You" (G4Y). Through a partnership with HumanaVitality's insurance wellness and rewards program, Humana members who purchased G4Y labeled foods at Walmart could receive a 5% rebate initially applied to the transaction, and up to a 50% rebate related to additional program participation. The study will employ several sources of data, including transactional data from Walmart and health screening data from HumanaVitality, using quantitative methods to assess whether the G4Y initiative shifted consumer product selection and the composition of the grocery basket, incentivized dietary changes over time, improved consumers’ health, and/or lowered annual health expenditures. Deliverables will include a project work plan and a final narrative and financial report. The grantee will also produce paper(s) suitable for publication and present findings at national research meetings and to other stakeholder audiences as appropriate, including the business sector and federal and state policymakers, as part of the deliverables for this grant.