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Table 1 Characteristics of included studies (randomized controlled trials)

From: Social marketing including financial incentive programs at worksite cafeterias for preventing obesity: a systematic review

Characteristic Study 1 Study 2 Study 3
Reference no. 33 34 35
Author Vermeer et al. Lowe et al. Thorndike et al.
Year 2011 2010 2016
Country Netherlands USA (Philadelphia) USA (Massachusetts)
Type of study Cluster RCT RCT RCT
Participants Hospital: N = 15, company: N = 5, university: N = 3, police department: N = 2 Hospital: N = 2 cafeterias in hospital or university employees Hospital: N = 2 cafeterias in hospital where employees were working
Total study population (I/C) Pre: 499 (184, 135/180)
Post: 308 (129, 75/104)
96 (47/49)  
Sex Males and females;
male 50%
Males and females
(18, 78),
EC (11, 38),
ECPls (7, 40)
Male and females; feedback incentive (72, 28), feedback only (73,27), control (72, 28)
Age 18–79 years; mean (SD) = 39.18 (11.26) 21–65 years 18–50 and over
Intervention duration 3 months 3 months 3 months
Follow-up 6 months, 12 months 1 month, 2 months, 3 months
Intervention program 1. Intervention group 1 (N = 9): price was 65% of the standard price. About 2/3 of the size of the standard portion was offered.
2. Intervention group 2 (N = 8); price was 80% of the standard price. A smaller portion size was added to the assortment and value-size pricing (a lower price per unit for large portions than for small portions).
1. Intervention group (density education and incentive): environmental change (EC)-plus
・Financial discounts: 15% discount (low-energy density) or 25% discount (very low-energy density) for cafeteria food items which were lower in energy density (e.g., soups, salads, diet soda, any entrees or side dishes etc., labeled as low or very low in energy density)
*Green: very low in energy density (< 0.6 kcal/g)
*Yellow: low in energy density (< 0.6–1.5 kcal/g)
*Orange: medium in energy density:
(< 1.6–3.9 kcal/g)
*Red: high in energy density: (< 4.9–9.0 kcal/g)
・Group sessions (four time × 60 min) during which subjects were informed about the energy density of different food items.
1. Intervention group 1 (feedback incentive):
・Rewards for achieving “green goal” (40%, 60%, 80%) of all cafeteria purchases. Each time the goal was achieved in a month, $10 was earned as a reward.
・Same as feedback-only group
Control program 1. The control group (N = 8): the standard size of hot meal was offered. 1. Control group (only environmental changes): EC・(same as EC-plus)・No financial discounts No group session 1. Control group (no contact)
2. Feedback only (four letters sent over a period of 3 months; explanation of traffic light system or the proportion of employee’s traffic light group purchases)
ITT* No; pre-post Yes No; pre-post
Outcome Primary outcome:
Secondary outcome:
Fried snacks
Primary outcome:
weight change
Secondary outcomes:
blood pressure
(no outcome data),
food intake
(fruits, meats, dairy, breads, dairy products, fat and sweets),
nutritional intake
(total energy kcal), sales data (purchased energy [kcal] and purchased proportion of calories from fat, protein, and carbohydrate)
Primary outcome: none
Secondary outcomes: inappropriate
  1. *Intention-to-treat test (ITT): Intervention consisting of financial incentive program versus no financial incentive program
  2. RCT randomized controlled trial, I/C intervention/control, EC control group (financial incentive and environmental changes), EC-plus intervention group (density education and financial incentive and environmental change), SD standard deviation, BMI body mass index, TC total cholesterol, HDL high-density lipoprotein, LDL low-density lipoprotein