The five-year program to support food retailers and their customers will be delivered by the Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health: Next Generation (RE-FRESHING) which will be supported by $2.5million funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
Program lead Associate Professor Adrian Cameron from Deakin’s Global Centre for Preventive Health and Nutrition (GLOBE) in the Institute for Health Transformation (IHT) said RE-FRESHING would enable researchers to continue work that had demonstrated healthy food retail can be good for consumers and for business.
‘“Our research over the past five years has shown retail interventions can help customers make healthier choices when buying food and drinks and can also be a sustainable model for retailers. Now we have the opportunity to create change on a larger scale and in new ways, including through digital food platforms.”’
Associate Professor Adrian Cameron
RE-FRESHING will be led by Deakin University, with collaboration from The George Institute for Global Health, The University of Queensland, Monash University, University of Western Australia, University of Auckland, Amsterdam UMC, The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and Cancer Council Victoria.
Executive Dean of Deakin’s Faculty of Health, Alfred Deakin Professor Rachel Huxley said RE-FRESHING would generate significant and sustained outcomes.
“It’s great to see the NHMRC invest in public health initiatives that bring benefits right across the Australian population – eating well should be a right and not a privilege,” Professor Huxley said.
Associate Professor Cameron said unhealthy diets and excess body weight were two of the top three contributors to poor health in Australia.
“Only five per cent of Australians eat the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables and at least 35 per cent of the energy intake of adults and 41 per cent of the energy intake of children comes from unhealthy food and drinks,” Associate Professor Cameron said.
“Over the next five years, we will be working to generate further evidence to support government policy that promotes healthy food in retail environments.
“In particular, we would like to see greater regulation around the marketing of unhealthy, ultra-processed food, which is promoted through price promotions and prominent placement.
“For example, our research has shown that 80 per cent of the display space at checkout and end of aisle displays in Australian supermarkets is devoted to unhealthy food. Unhealthy food is price discounted twice as often as healthy food and the discounts are twice as big.
“We will also be working closely with retailers to provide direct support for healthy food initiatives that are sustainable in the long term.
“Australians deserve to have food environments that help them live healthy and happy lives. Promoting diets that meet national dietary guidelines is a sustainable model for retailers and is also what their customers want.”
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