Obtaining Healthy Food

Fruits and vegetables on a supermarket shelf.Healthy Food Procurement
The impact of healthy food procurement policies / programs and nutrition standards on sales, intake and availability of healthier food and body weight status

Download Evidence Syntheses



In the last few decades, unhealthy foods have become widely available in public settings such as schools (1), recreational facilities (2), workplaces, and even health care institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. The development and implementation of healthy food procurement policies may be a promising strategy for promoting healthier food environments (3, 4). The concept of healthy food procurement includes the processes of procuring, distributing, selling, and/or serving food with the goal of promoting healthier dietary choices (5). Nutritional standards and guidelines are important aspects of healthy food procurement policies, as they determine the types of food that may be procured (5).

Despite a recognition of the need to promote healthy choices in a variety of settings, healthy food procurement policies have yet to be broadly implemented, perhaps due to limited knowledge of their potential positive impacts. This brief summarizes review findings addressing the impact of healthy food procurement policies and nutrition standards on the sale, intake, and availability of healthier food, as well as body weight outcomes.

Key Findings:

  • Healthy food procurement policies/programs and/or nutrition standards may contribute to increased intake, sales and availability of healthier foods (6, 7).
  • Overall, results related to BMI are mixed, indicating a need for continued research and evaluation in this area (3, 6-7).
  • Case studies highlight the role of contextual factors, such as institutional history, stakeholder engagement, and high-level support, in ensuring successful development and implementation of healthy food procurement policies and/or nutritional standards (10).
  • Current research supports policy action in this area, while future research may give added insight into the impact of healthy food procurement (3).

Explore Policies Related to Obesity Prevention: CPAC’s Prevention Policies Directory.

The Directory is a freely-accessible online database of policies relating to cancer and chronic disease prevention, many of which address obesity prevention. It allows users to search by risk factor, jurisdiction, geographical location, and document type and provides summaries and direct access to policy documents.

Click here to find policies related to healthy food procurement policies and programs in the Prevention Policies Directory.


1. Winson A. School food environments and the obesity issue: Content, structural determinants, and agency in Canadian high schools. Agriculture and Human Values. 2008;25(4):499-511.
2. Chaumette P, Morency S, Royer A, Lemieux S, Tremblay A. Food environment in the sports, recreational and cultural facilities of Quebec City: a look at the situation. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2009;100(4):310.
3. Niebylski ML, Lu T, Campbell NR, Arcand J, Schermel A, Hua D, et al. Healthy food procurement policies and their impact. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2014;11(3):2608-27.
4. Story M, Kaphingst KM, Robinson-O’Brien R, Glanz K. Creating healthy food and eating environments: Policy and environmental approaches. Annu Rev Public Health. 2008;29:253-72.
5. Robles B, Wood M, Kimmons J, Kuo T. Comparison of nutrition standards and other recommended procurement practices for improving institutional food offerings in Los Angeles County, 2010–2012. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal. 2013;4(2):191-202.
6. Chriqui JFP, M.; Story, M. Influence of school competitive food and beverage policies on obesity, consumption, and availability: A systematic review. JAMA Pediatrics. 2014;168(3):279-86.
7. Jaime PC, Lock K. Do school based food and nutrition policies improve diet and reduce obesity? Preventive Medicine. 2009;48(1):45-53.