The aim of stream 3 is to develop continuous monitoring and feedback processes, to inform and assess progress in improving the health impact of food retail environments. Several projects in this stream form parts of INFORMAS (International Network for Food and Obesity/NCDs Research, Monitoring and Action Support), a global network of public-interest organisations and researchers that seek to monitor and benchmark public and private sector actions to create healthy food environments, and reduce obesity and non-communicable diseases globally.
The objectives of Stream 3 are progressing through more than eight projects currently being undertaken or planned. As a team, we are constantly seeking new opportunities for funding and collaboration and expect this body of work to grow throughout the life of RE-FRESH.
Generate detailed evidence of how food retail environments impact health, including assessment of relevant retailer and government policies, using standardised processes, methods, and resources.
Identify priority areas for policy intervention to create healthy food retail environments, benchmarked against international best practice.
Establish systems and tools to increase the accountability of, and feedback to, retailers and governments in their roles in creating healthier food retail environments.
Objective 1: Generate detailed evidence of how food retail environments impact health, including the assessment of relevant retailer and government policies.
This objective is being fulfilled through multiple projects, including:
- Assessing the degree to which the in-store environments within major Australian supermarket chains promote healthy eating, and how this varies according to the level of socioeconomic disadvantage of the area in which the stores are located.
- Development and testing of an evidence-based tool for assessing the extent to which university policies and environments support healthy and sustainable food choices, developed in consultation with a national working group.
- Monitoring the food retail environment (density, healthiness and types of food outlets available) in Greater Melbourne over time, and endeavouring to capture a snapshot of the current food retail environment for the whole of Victoria.
- Monitoring of temporary promotions (e.g., short-term price reductions and/or product promotions) of major fast food chains and quick service restaurants in Australia.
- The Healthy Diets Australian Standardised Affordability and Pricing (ASAP) method which compares the cost, cost differential and affordability of healthy (recommended) and current (unhealthy) diets in Australia allows monitoring of the cost and affordability of diets.
- INFORMAS: https://www.informas.org/
Objective 3: Establish systems and tools to increase the accountability of, and feedback to, retailers and governments in their roles in creating healthier food retail environments.
Work contributing to meeting this objective includes:
- A randomised-controlled trial to assess the effects of providing tailored support to food companies to improve their nutrition-related policies and practices. The aim of this project is to improve the healthiness of the food supply, and thereby improve population diets in Australia and New Zealand. The project will be conducted by leading international food policy experts in partnership with the Australian Government Department of Health and VicHealth.
- Retailer benchmarking reports, such as those in the Inside our Food Companies series.
resources for this stream
A systematic review of the Australian food retail environment: Characteristics, variation by geographic area, socioeconomic position and associations with diet and obesity
Identifying and implementing the most feasible strategy to improve the health of food retail
Healthy food retail strategy outcome evaluation
Population diet, health and business impact modelling
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