07 Aug, 2019 Last updated: 07 Aug, 2019

VicHealth’s Action Agenda 2019–2023 reaffirms the 10-year goal of 200,000 more Victorians adopting a healthier diet.

Download: VicHealth Healthy Eating Strategy 2019–2023 (PDF, 153 KB)

All Victorians should have the opportunity to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Yet the ability to do so is often undermined by environmental factors.The availability and ease of access to unhealthy foods, the relatively high cost of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, time pressures that make convenience foods appealing, and advertising and social norms are all forces that shape our diet.

In 2013, VicHealth released its Action Agenda for Health Promotion, which set our strategic direction for the 10 years to 2023. Promoting healthy eating is one of five strategic imperatives identified for action to improve the health of all Victorians, with a 10-year goal that 200,000 more Victorians will adopt a healthier diet by 2023.

Focus areas

Sports settings

Building on our current Water in Sports initiative and our unique relationship with the sports sector across Victoria, we will focus on creating healthier food and drink environments in sport settings.

Sporting organisations are ideally placed to lead by example in promoting healthier lifestyles and supporting the connection between sport and healthy food and drink options for players, volunteers, spectators and patrons. We will:

  • continue to embed the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices policy guidelines for sport and recreation with local government and sporting venues to increase the proportion of healthier food and drinks (and reduce the supply and promotion of unhealthy food and drinks) sold at their retail outlets
  • improve access to free drinking water
  • engage the public and key stakeholders to harness community support for the removal of junk food marketing and sponsorship from children’s sports
  • continue to build the evidence base to support the sports sector in providing a healthier food and drink environment
  • leverage our existing partnerships, such as sporting associations, the Obesity Policy Coalition and Parents Voice, to nudge system-wide change that helps to reduce marketing and advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

What will success look like?

  • More sporting venues with healthier food and drinks in their retail outlets
  • Stronger community support for healthier sponsorship in sports

 

Fruit and vegetable consumption 

Over the next four years, we will strengthen our commitment to improving Victorians’ fruit and vegetable intake.

Currently, only 5 per cent of adults consume the recommended serves for vegetables, while 41 per cent meet the recommended number of serves for fruit each day (DHHS 2018a). At a population level, even modest gains in fruit and vegetable intake (for instance, just one serve per day) have been shown to have substantial health benefits, particularly for those with the lowest intake (Wang et al. 2014).

System-wide approaches are needed to bring long-term improvement in fruit and vegetable intake and ensure existing inequities do not widen. Our earlier food security focus and salt-reduction work revealed that strong partnerships across the food system are key to addressing the barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption.

To support an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption, we will:

  • review evidence of effective local, national and international approaches to increasing fruit and vegetable intake, particularly for populations with the lowest intake
  • continue to support the Victorian Fruit and Vegetable Consortium and build an evidence-informed consensus on the policy and practice changes required to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, particularly for those whose intake is lowest
  • extend our current research to explore the role of the food system in improving accessibility to, and availability of, fruit and vegetables
  • work with partners and communities to build on effective local approaches to improving fruit and vegetable intake, particularly for those whose intake is lowest.

What will success look like?
An increase in fruit and vegetable intake across all population groups, particularly for those whose intake is lowest.

 

Food cultures

Our food culture has changed significantly in recent years. Victorians’ diets now transcend seasonality, meals and snacks are commonly consumed outside the home, and people are increasingly disconnected from food preparation and cooking.

Food manufacturers and retailers expose Victorians to an array of food products, many of which are ultra-processed and heavily marketed.

Building on our experience of developing an Alcohol Cultures Framework, we will seek to better define and understand how food culture influences eating habits.

Over the next four years, we will:

  • review the evidence on food cultures and effective ways to shift expectations, beliefs and social norms towards healthier eating
  • work with partners and communities to co-develop healthy eating messages that reflect a contemporary understanding of food, and resonate strongly with decision-makers and people most at risk of diet-related poor health
  • use this evidence to influence food cultures in Victoria, along with the healthy eating policies and practices of organisations and government.

What will success look like?

A shift in attitudes and norms towards healthier food cultures.


Other resources

Download: VicHealth Healthy Eating Strategy 2017–2019 (PDF, 180 KB)

References: Download the VicHealth Healthy Eating Strategy 2019–2023 PDF for a full list of references