Box Chicken: A Healthy Alternative to Help Get Your Kids Off Junk Food


No, we aren’t talking about the new KFC box that allows your mobile phone to charge, while eating your fried chicken. We are talking about Box Chicken, a healthy street food campaign aimed at tackling childhood obesity in London’s low-income areas by increasing the availability of healthy, tasty and affordable fast food; thus, reducing the impact of existing junk food takeaway outlets on children’s health.

An initiative by Shift Design (formerly We Are What We Do) – a London and San Francisco based not-for-profit behavior change company – Box Chicken is a low fat alternative to fried chicken. It is aimed at school children via mobile vans. Compared to an original recipe meal at KFC, a 300g Box Chicken meal and 200ml of orange juice has 60% fewer calories, 85% less saturated fat, 70% less salt and 20% less sugar. In other words, an average 300g Box Chicken contains at least 1½ portions of vegetables; only 373 calories, of which only 1.5g is saturated fat, and less than 1g of salt.

Childhood obesity levels have tripled in the past 15 years. More than 1 in 3 children aged 11–15 years are now overweight or obese. Poor diet is affecting a lot of people, you can encourage people to do more exercise but you need to do so much that it’s unrealistic,” says Shift Design’s creative director, Tori Flower.

To make matters worse, there’s a clear correlation between poverty, fast-food restaurants and weight problems, reports The Guardian, adding that a fast-food outlet within 160m of a school has shown to be associated with at least a 5.2% increase in obesity rates among 15-16 year olds.

Shift Design’s CEO, Nick Stanhope, notes:

“As well as being really tasty and really convenient, fried chicken is also really unhealthy. Your average chicken-shop meal of chips, chicken and a drink has about 70% of your daily calories, over half of your daily salt and half your daily fat. Chicken-shop sourcing standards tend to be pretty low because they’re having to buy incredibly low-cost goods due to selling things at incredibly low margins.”

By providing accessible, healthier foods, which are also quick, hot, cheap and tasty, Box Chicken wants children to substitute some meals they would otherwise purchase at unhealthy fast food shops, with nutritionally balanced food purchased at Box Chicken. The aim is to make children familiar with new, healthier foods, thereby subtly shift their eating behaviors towards healthier options without nagging.

Shift Design’s account director, Ella Wiggans, explains:

We didn’t want it to be seen as ‘the healthy food van that’s good for you’. Box Chicken had to be independent, not the school or parent-endorsed option, because that’s not appealing to young people. We wanted it to be the freely chosen option.

“Branding is important, but there are other factors that affect where young people choose to eat – location, speed of service, if their friends are going and how friendly the service is. We altered the menu to make it more appealing to young people, and made sure the prices were similar to our competitors.”

With fierce competition and marketing by global junk food leaders, do you think it is possible to provide a healthy, popular and financially sustainable alternative to the fast food crazy generation? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below…

This article (Box Chicken: A Healthy Alternative to Help Get Your Kids Off Junk Food) is a free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and


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