Making takeaway meals healthier without damaging profits

The Challenge

There are over 8,000 fast food outlets in London alone and each meal served provides on average 68% of recommended daily calories. Outlets don’t want to change their menus through fear their customers won’t like it.

“I have been working alongside Shift for around five years. The organisation appealed to me due to the way in which they scientifically addressed a social issue through a continual learning and development loop, with the ultimate aim of changing behaviours through instinct instead of force. I enjoy the open and honest dialogue that we have, which makes the projects a pleasant partnership as opposed to a stuffy commissioner and provider situation.”

Susie Chrome, Public Health Tower Hamlets

The Solution

Changes to raw ingredients, recipes, preparation methods, packaging and marketing techniques in fast food outlets in East London and Birmingham, designed to reduce calories in meals whilst maintaining popularity with customers.

So far…

Shift have got under the skin of the challenge in terms of understanding the nutrition of takeaways meals, the role this food plays in people’s lives, the nature of the businesses involved and how their owners relate to them. They are crystal clear on what we can (and can’t) hope to influence and what we have to work with in order to effect change.

Adrian Phillips, Director of Public Health, Birmingham City Council

  • 5 interventions tested in 4 outlets in a takeaway-dense area of Tower Hamlets, London
  • 15% reduction in calories achieved by redesigned chip box
  • 200% increase in sales of healthier grilled menu item promoted by “Boss Meal” intervention in one chicken shop during test period compared to baseline
  • 134 customer intercept interviews conducted


Stealthy Fast Food: Phase 2 Evaluation Report

December 6, 2017

Evaluation report of experimental feasibility study aiming to test a variety of realistic adaptations to fast food business and evaluate these adaptations to understand their relative effectiveness in relation to sales, costs, customer satisfaction and health. Funded by Public Health, Tower Hamlets. By Chloe Cook and Chris Holmes




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