Airline food study gives Virgin America top marks in healthy eating options

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A new study from NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College and DietDetective.com ranks Virgin America as one of the top airlines offering healthy food options.

“This year Virgin America wins the top spot again with the “healthiest” food choices in the sky with Delta and Air Canada tied for second,” said Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the executive director of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College and editor of DietDetective.com.

Twelve airlines were rated based on 10 criteria including health and calorie levels of meals, snack boxes and individual snacks, improvement and maintenance of healthy offerings, menu innovation and cooperation in providing nutritional information. The survey includes health ratings, average calories per airline, cost, comments, best bets, food offerings, calories, and exercise equivalents.

Summary of Health Ratings (5 stars = highest rating): Virgin America 4.25 stars, Delta 4 stars, Air Canada 4 stars, Alaska Air 3.75 stars, JetBlue 3.5 stars, United Airlines 3.25 stars, American 3 stars, Southwest Airlines 2 stars, Allegiant Air 1.75 stars, Hawaii 1.75 stars, Spirit Airlines 1 star, Frontier Air 1 star

The study noted that overall there was an 8 calorie decrease in the food offered this year over last year. Since 2012 the calories in airline food had been increasing slightly: The average number of calories per food item was 360 in 2012; in 2013 it was 388; in 2014 it was 397, 2015 it was 400, and this year it was 392. The survey also looked at the nutrients in the foods when they are provided, as well as innovations moving towards healthy, tasty, inexpensive, sustainable foods.

See the full study at http://www. dietdetective.com/ airline-food-investigation/.

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