Helena Laroche, University of Iowa – Healthier Concession Stands

Helena Laroche

Helena Laroche

When attending a sporting event, snacking on a hot dog or grabbing a soda at the game is a long standing spectator tradition.

Helena Laroche, assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, made some changes to the menu during selected sporting events and studied the results.

Dr. Helena Laroche is an assistant professor of internal medicine and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. Her specialties include diabetes, general internal medicine, obesity and preventative medicine. She earned her MD at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics

Helena Laroche – Healthier Concession Stands


We wanted to observe the effects that changing items sold at concession stands would have on satisfaction and sales.

At one large high school, we collected data on sales and satisfaction during the 2008 fall sports seasons of football, swimming, and volleyball.

Then during the fall 2009 sports season we added 8 new items: carrots with ranch dressing, large pickles, soft pretzels, string cheese, whole apples, chicken sandwiches, granola bars, and trail mix.

 Additionally we changed the oil that the popcorn was popped in from coconut oil bars to canola oil which removed the trans fat and decreased the saturated fat. We also changed the nacho cheese to a brand that did not contain trans fat and n previously offered items were removed. Then, we resurveyed students and parents about their satisfaction and collected the sales data.

 We found that:

  • Student overall satisfaction with the concession stand remained unchanged but their satisfaction with healthy choices improved and parent overall satisfaction improved.
  • The brand new items made up 9.2 % of all sales income during the fall season while the modified popcorn and nachos made up another 25.5 %.
  • Income per football game was similar in both years at $6599 per game in 2008 and $6849 per game in 2009.
  • The most popular new items were chicken sandwiches and pretzels and other items showed increases over time suggesting increasing popularity.
  • Profit margins on 6 of 8 new items were equivalent or greater than that of the candy bars.

 This study shows that adding new items and modifying other items led to similar or increase satisfaction while maintaining stable concession income. These new items were able to provide a healthier source of revenue and reasonable profit margins.


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