Healthy Eating & Active Living

Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice

The Prevention Team together with South Gippsland Shire Council and Bass Coast Shire Council have recently completed the Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice project with local food businesses.

Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice used the Healthy Choices: food and drink classification guide, which categorises food and drinks as Green, Amber or Red based on their nutritional value. Green-best choice, Amber- choose carefully and Red-limit. (The Traffic Light System). Individual menu items were assessed using the Victorian Healthy Eating Enterprise Food Checker Tool and assigned a classification.

During year one of the project the team collaborated with Environmental Health Officers to identify and engage a cross section of food businesses to participate in the pilot phase. Health Promotion staff worked directly with 5 identified businesses to co-design interventions that are achievable for that businesses. This process enabled staff to identify clear drivers for each businesses’ involvement in the project and build on these. During year two the project team circulated an expression of interest to all food businesses across the South Coast, using local government food business annual registration mail out to distribute. Furthermore, businesses that were identified as a good fit for the project were followed up with phone calls to support engagement in the project. As with phase one, interventions were co-designed with each individual business, put in place for a minimum period of 3 months and monitored during this time. This enabled interventions to be adapted or scaled up in response to the data collected. Each intervention was designed to encourage consumers to make healthier choices, by changing the placement, product, pricing or promotion of healthier food and drinks in preference to unhealthy options.

The Prevention Team works with early childhood services, schools and workplaces across the South Coast to implement the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Benchmarks of the Achievement Program.

Tap Water Every Day

Sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) include fruit drinks, sweetened milk drinks, cordials, sports drinks, energy drinks, vitamin waters and sweetened iced tea, as well as soft drinks. The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with increased energy intake and in turn, weight gain and obesity. It is well established that obesity is a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Young Australian men (12-24 years) are very high consumers of sugar sweetened beverages and soft drink in particular. The Gippsland Region has higher consumption of sugar sweetened beverages than the Victorian average, with people living in rural and remote areas more likely to consume sugar sweetened beverages than those living in metropolitan areas.

Across the South Coast Region 15.5% of the adult population consume sugar sweetened beverages on a daily basis (South Gippsland 15%, Bass Coast 16%) with over 4% consuming NO water at all (South Gippsland 5.3%, Bass Coast 3.3%) (VicHealth, 2015). Additionally, health data identifies that 7.6% of the South Gippsland population has poor dental health, compared to the Victorian average of 5.6%. With this evidence base and previous efforts, the South Coast Prevention Team identified healthy eating, particularly sugar sweetened beverage consumption, as one of its priority areas within the South Coast Integrated Health Promotion Plan 2017-2021.

The South Coast Prevention team has been funded by the Department of Health and Human Services to deliver a place based social marketing campaign to address the local health data related to SSB consumption.

The South Coast Prevention Team is a member of the sub-regional South Coast Water Partnership. This partnership consists of local organisations who work to increase consumption of tap water and reduce the consumption of sugar sweetened beverages. This partnership oversees the implementation of this project and alignment to broader healthy eating campaigns occurring locally. It also ensures all key stakeholders are engaged in the implementation of this project.

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