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At the Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH), we work to transform retail food environments to improve diet and health at a population level. 

Our team is focused on high quality cross-disciplinary research and collaboration to build the evidence, methods and tools needed to accelerate the uptake of proven healthy food retail initiatives, strengthened through our solid partnerships with government and non-government organisations, community organisations and food retailers.

We are pleased to bring you our latest news…

Our ‘re-freshed’ website offers valuable new content

RE-FRESH’s newly updated website is now online, offering an even more user-friendly interface, a hub for all our news and events and the addition of blog articles penned by our researchers.

Our popular ‘Resources & Publications’ hub has also also grown, with:


Prof. Sacks leads newly released UNICEF guidance framework to improve child health

RE-FRESH Chief Investigator Professor Gary Sacks (pictured above) is the lead author of a major new UNICEF report which focuses on creating healthier food retail environments for children, predominantly in supermarkets.

The ‘Guidance Framework to Support Healthier Food Retail Environments for Children: A practical tool for nutrition and children’s rights in the food retail sector’  provides effective steps the food retail sector and investors can take. It also outlines how improved business practices can support good nutrition for children and their families. The guide is relevant to food retailers worldwide


You chance to inform online food delivery research

The purpose of this research is to create a scoring index to assess the healthiness of food outlets available on food delivery systems such as Uber Eats and Menu Log.


BLOG: Woolworths commits to healthier check-outs – but what does this really mean?

In a first for an Australian supermarket, Woolworths has announced a commitment to make displays at store checkouts and end-of-aisles healthier…but will this make a mark on population health?

RE-FRESH Chief Investigators A/Prof. Adrian Cameron (pictured above, top) and Prof. Gary Sacks (pictured above) take a closer look:


Accolades roll in for RE-FRESH Director

RE-FRESH Director Alfred Deakin Professor Anna Peeters (pictured) has received a number of significant accolades in recent weeks.

Her service to community health was recognised in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours List, when she was named a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) which conferrs the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service (to obesity research).  READ MORE

In addition, Prof. Peeters has been:

  • Conferred as Honorary Skou Professor at Aarhus University, Denmark, while visiting the country for several engagements in June, and;
  • Named a STEM Ambassador for the country’s peak science and technology body, ‘Science & Technology Australia’, last month.



EMCR chosen as AUS/NZ representative ‘Rising Star’

RE-FRESH EMCR Dr Tara Boelsen-Robinson (pictured above) was selected to present at the Asia-Oceania Conference on Obesity (AOCO) in Hong Kong in August as part of the ‘Rising Star Symposium’, recognising outstanding early-to-mid-career researchers in the Asia-Oceania region working in the field of obesity research.

Dr Boelsen-Robinson was nominated by the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society as their leading candidate for the ‘under 35 years of age’ symposium. She presented on her current pilot randomised control trial which is testing the impact of co-created implementation tools to support healthy food retail environments. This work is a partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland, funded through The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and Deakin University.


RE-FRESH-funded PhD student submits thesis

We are excited to share that our RE-FRESH-funded PhD student Carmen Vargas Ares (pictured) has submitted her thesis on “The Theory and Practice of Co-creation to Develop Health-Enabling Initiatives: a Food Retail Perspective” after three years of hard work. Her supervisors were RE-FRESH members Prof. Steve Allender, A/Prof. Julie Brimblecombe and Dr Jill Whelan.

Carmen’s research focuses on how all stakeholders can work together effectively to meet each of their needs  ̶  an approach she describes as “critical to achieving change” in retail food retail settings.

Carmen has created a short animated video on her PhD research, outlining the potential of using co-creation as an approach to improve the healthiness of food retail environments. If you wish to build meaningful collaborations and partnerships to implement health-enabling strategies in food retail settings, this video will show you how RE-FRESH, through Carmen’s research, is progressing this approach.


Carmen has also taken a moment to reflect on her PhD journey and what she has learnt about research, and herself, in a special ‘Q&A’ piece:


Latest publications from our team:

1. From RE-FRESH’s Dr Shaan Naughton*, Dr Helena Romaniuk* (co-first authors), Alfred Deakin Prof. Anna Peeters (AM), Dr Alexandra Chung, Prof. Liliana Orellana, Dr Tara Bolesen-Robinson and co-author:  PLOS One – “Evaluation of the introduction of a healthy food and drink policy in 13 community recreation centres on the healthiness and nutrient content of customer purchases and business outcomes: an observational study.”


2. From RE-FRESH’s Sally Schultz (PhD candidate), Dr Christina Zorbas, Alfred Deakin Prof. Anna Peeters (AM), Prof. Kathryn Backholer and co-author: International Journal for Equity in Health –  “Strengthening local government policies to address health inequities: perspectives from Australian local government stakeholders.”

3. From RE-FRESH’s Dr Jill Whelan, A/Prof. Julie Brimblecombe, Dr Meaghan Christian, Carmen Vargas (PhD candidate), Dr Megan Ferguson, Dr Emma McMahon, Prof. Amanda Lee, Prof. Colin Bell, Dr Tara Boelsen-Robinson, Dr Miranda Blake, Dr Meron Lewis, Dr Laura Alston & Prof. Steven Allender: AJPM Focus – “CO-creation and evaluation of food environments to Advance Community Health (COACH).”

4. From RE-FRESH’s Carmen Vargas (PhD candidate), Dr Jill Whelan, A/Prof. Julie Brimblecombe, Prof. Steven Allender & co-authors: International Journal of Environmental Health and Public Research – “Developing Co-Creation Research in Food Retail Environments: A Descriptive Case Study of a Healthy Supermarket Initiative in Regional Victoria, Australia.”

5. From RE-FRESH’s Carmen Vargas (PhD candidate), A/Prof. Julie Brimblecombe, Prof. Steven Allender, Dr Jill Whelan & co-authors: BMC Public Health – “Co-creation of health-enabling initiatives in food retail: academic perspectives.”




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