Food retail environments, where Australians source most of the food they consume, currently incentivize and promote unhealthy food choices, leading directly to poor health outcomes. Food retailers play a pivotal role in influencing food purchases.​

But why have so few retail environments become healthier? One key reason is an assumption that healthy food retail will reduce profitability and customer satisfaction. Excitingly however, recent emerging evidence – much of it generated in partnership with our team – is challenging this assumption, demonstrating that interventions which promote healthier food retail can be feasible and profitable, and align with growing customer demand 1-16.​

With over one-third of energy intake coming from unhealthy food and drink, poor diet represents a large and avoidable burden and offers substantial opportunity for effective interventions to improve population health, equity and wellbeing. Poorer diet quality is associated with greater social disadvantage, making unhealthy diet an important contributor to Australia’s inequalities in health 17. An unhealthy diet is Australia’s key modifiable risk factor, resulting in over 500,000 years of life lost to death and disability each year 18. ​

The time is right for RE-FRESH to build and substantiate this business case, as a critical lever we must pull to move society toward healthy food retail environments that promote healthier diets for all our citizens, now and into the future. ​

  1. Peeters A, Boelsen-Robinson T. Introduction of Healthy Choices at Alfred Health food outlets. Melbourne: VicHealth; 2016.​
  2. Blake MR, Peeters A, Lancsar E, Boelsen-Robinson T, Corben K, Stevenson CE, Palermo C, Backholer Ket a. Retailer-Led Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Price Increase Reduces Purchases in a Hospital Convenience Store in Melbourne, Australia: A Mixed Methods Evaluation. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2018;118(6):1027-36.e8​
  3. Lee A, Rainow S, Tregenza J, Tregenza L, Balmer L, Bryce S, Paddy M, Sheard J, Schomburgk, D. Nutrition in remote aboriginal communities: lessons from Mai Wiru and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health. 2016; 40(S1):S81-S8.​
  4. Butler R, Tapsell L, Lyons-Wall P. Trends in purchasing patterns of sugar‐sweetened water‐based beverages in a remote Aboriginal community store following the implementation of a community‐developed store nutrition policy. Journal of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2011; 68(2):115-9.​
  5. Huse O, Blake MR, Brooks R, Corben K, Peeters A. The effect on drink sales of removal of unhealthy drinks from display in a self-service café. Public Health Nutrition. 2016; 19(17):3142-5.​
  6. Boelsen-Robinson T, Backholer K, Corben K, Blake MR, Palermo C, Peeters A. The effect of a change to healthy vending in a major Australian health service on sales of healthy and unhealthy food and beverages. Appetite. 2017; 114:73-81. ​
  7. Peeters A, Boelsen-Robinson T. Going soft drink free in YMCA Victoria aquatic and recreation centres. Melbourne: VicHealth; 2016.​
  8. Brimblecombe J, Ferguson M, Chatfield MD, Liberato SC, Gunther A, Ball K, Moodie M, Miles E, Magnus A, Ni Mhurchu C, Leach A, Bailie R. Effect of a price discount and consumer education strategy on food and beverage purchases in remote Indigenous Australia: a stepped-wedge randomised controlled trial. Lancet Public Health.2017;2(2):e82-e95.​
  9. Ni Mhurchu C, Blakely T, Jiang Y, Eyles HC, Rodgers A. Effects of price discounts and tailored nutrition education on supermarket purchases: a randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009;91(3):736-47.​
  10. Mah CL, Minaker LM, Jameson K, Rappaport L, Taylor K, Graham M, Moody N, Cook B. An introduction to the healthy corner store intervention model in Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2017;108(3):e320-e4.​
  11. Minaker LM, Olstad DL, MacKenzie G, Nguyen N, Azagba S, Cook BE, Mah C. An evaluation of the impact of a restrictive retail food environment intervention in a rural community pharmacy setting. BMC Public Health. 2016;16(1):586​
  12. Boelsen-Robinson T, Orellana L, Backholer K, Kurzeme A, Jerebine A, Gilham B, Chung A, Peeters A. 2020. Change in drink purchases in 16 Australian recreation centres following a sugar-sweetened beverage reduction initiative: an observational study. BMJ Open. Mar 4;10(3)e029492​
  13. Brimblecombe J, McMahon E, Ferguson M, De Silva K, Peeters A, Miles E, Wycherley T, Minaker L, Greenacre L, Gunther A, Chappell E. 2020. Effect of restricted retail merchandising of discretionary food and beverages on population diet: a pragmatic randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Planetary Health, 4(10), pp.e463-e473.​
  14. Huse O, Orellana L, Ferguson M, Palermo C, Jerebine A, Zorbas C, Boelsen-Robinson T, Blake MR, Peeters A, Brimblecombe J, Moodie M, Backholer K. 2020. Retailer-led healthy pricing interventions: a pilot study within Victorian aquatic and recreation centres. Health Promotion International. 2020 Aug. DOI: 10.1093/heapro/daaa074.​
  15. Ryan,A, Huse O, Blake MR, Boelsen-Robinson T, Nobel K, Peeters, A. 2019. The long-term effectiveness and acceptability of the retailer-led removal of unhealthy drinks from display in a self-service café. Public Health Nutrition. 13(): 1-6.​
  16. Kwon J, Cameron A, Hammond D, White C, Vanderlee L, Bhawra J, Sacks, G. A multi-country survey of public support for food policies to promote healthy diets: Findings from the International Food Policy Study. BMC Public Health. 2019; 19(1):1205.​
  17. Afshin A, Sur PJ, Fay KA, Cornaby L, Ferrara G, Salama JS, et al. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. The Lancet. 2019; 393(10184):1958-72.​
  18. Backholer K, Spencer E, Gearon E, Magliano DJ, McNaughton SA, Shaw JE, Peeters A. The association between socio-economic position and diet quality in Australian adults. Public Health Nutrition. 2014; 19(3):477-85.


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