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Healthy choice: the easy choice

17 Jul 2018
Research and Publications

Building the Business Case: Healthier food & drink policies

At VicHealth we acknowledge that the daily diets we consume are influenced by the environments in which we live, work and play. While many Victorians understand the need to eat a healthy diet, all too often the healthy choice is not the easiest choice.

One of the ways VicHealth is trying to address this issue, is by looking at ways we can nudge people towards healthier choices in public settings, such as hospitals and sport and recreation settings. This includes making small changes that improve the availability and promotion of water and healthy food options instead of sugary drinks and junk food.

The resources and links on this page showcase some of the outcomes achieved across numerous settings, with partners across several sectors, all working to build the business case for change.

Together we’re proving the time to nudge towards healthier food and drink choices is now – consumers are ready for the changes, it works and its easier than you think.

Nudging towards healthier choices in sport

Download the evaluation summary: Healthy food and drink choices in community sport (PDF, 222 KB)

Sporting organisations and local governments are in the ideal position to lead by example in promoting healthier lifestyles and supporting the connection between sport and healthy food and drink choices to their players, volunteers, spectators and patrons. From 2015 to 2017, VicHealth supported a range of local governments, sports clubs, associations and sport and recreation facilities to make healthy choices the easy choice within their sports venues by trialling a range of nudges.


  • What works in sport settings?

    Use nudges that work, such as ‘red drinks off display’ or ‘limit red drinks’ in canteen fridges


    These planograms provide examples of how best to stock fridges to implement the 'red drinks off display' and ‘limit red drinks’ nudge in double fridges behind the counter.

    For more examples and information about implementing a nudge go to ‘Resources'  on this page.


    Follow the Healthy Choices: policy guidelines for sport and recreation centres to classify food and drink into red, amber and green correctly.

    Appoint and work in partnership with key influencers as champions (e.g. coaches, parents, canteen managers, administrators) to help drive the changes and communicate them to your community. 

    Start small and build on changes over time.

    Evaluate how the changes have impacted your organisation and people’s behaviour (e.g. retail profits, healthy food and drink purchasing, resources required, acceptability among the community), adapt where required (i.e. change something that’s not working or take on an extra change where you are happy with the progress) and continue.

  • How do you get started?

    There's some easy steps you can take at your sporting organisation to help more people choose healthier food and drink options.

    Step 1 – Plan your approach

    Step 2 – Gain support

    Step 3 – Play to your strengths

    Step 4 – Involve and educate key influencers

    Step 5 – Make a healthy change

    Step 6 – Evaluate

    Step 7 – Embed the healthy change 

    To find out more see ‘Healthy food and drink choices in community sport’. This report summarises some of the evaluation results from VicHealth’s healthy food and drink nudge work with sports, and discusses the key learnings

  • What are community sports doing to promote healthy options?

    See our community sport case studies below to learn how different organisations around Victoria have made simple changes to promote healthier food and drink choices.

    Geelong Central Netball Club took all ‘red’ drinks off display so that only water was visible in the fridge. A range of healthier food options were also introduced into the canteen. The change made no significant difference to the canteen revenue and feedback from parents has been very positive.”
    Download: Geelong Central Netball Club case study


    Gippsland Regional Sports Complex displayed only water and 100 per cent juice on one side of a two-door fridge while sugary drinks were taken off display, hidden on the other side behind posters promoting water. The nudge was very successful: sales of ‘green’ drinks increased while sales of ‘amber’ drinks reduced without impacting revenue.
    Download: Gippsland Regional Sports Complex case study


    Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre removed all red drink items from display and food items were labelled as red, amber or green. The results were incredibly positive: sales revenue increased, water sales increased and more people were observed eating in the café.”
    Download: Ballarat Aquatic and Lifestyle Centre case study


    Greater Shepparton City Council increased the promotion and sale of water at their KidsTown venue with a successful nudge campaign, which involved reorganising fridges to take majority of red drinks off display. In this video, community stakeholders from council through to consumers talk about the impact of the changes.

    Watch: Greater Shepparton City Council KidsTown case study

    While not considered a nudge as such, Football Federation Victoria worked with Glen Eira Football Club to remove ‘red’ drinks from sale. During the trial period the club canteen sold only water, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and diet cola. This strategy was successful in reducing red drink sales and increasing green drinks without impacting on revenue.

    Download: Football Federation Victoria case study


    Using an educational nudge, AFL Victoria delivered a nutrition module at Junior Level One Coach Education courses. The course was designed to increase understanding of the nutrition requirements of junior footballers, and increase confidence among coaches who advise young footballers on best nutrition practices. This was backed up by simple messaging, fact sheets, two videos and newsletters.

    Download: AFL Victoria case study



    Netball Victoria introduced the provision of healthy snacks at the beginning of five NetSetGo programs in Victoria. This educational nudge was a great success because young players were educated about the reasons for healthy snacks and parents no longer needed to supply a snack, which was often a ‘red’ item due to lack of time between school pick up and netball drop off.

    Watch: Netball Victoria case study


    Basketball Victoria set up a showcase of healthy products at the Basketball Managers’ Trade and Convention Show in a ‘model’ canteen fitted out with typical shelves and fridges. This educational nudge was successful in inspiring basketball association managers who attended to make changes in their canteens.

    Download: Basketball Victoria case study


  • Useful resources

    Following VicHealth’s nudge trials across the sports sector, we now have a better understanding of what works. These resources have been developed to guide the implementation of the ‘nudge’ technique to encourage consumers to make healthier drink choices, by changing the placement, product, and promotion of healthier drinks in preference to unhealthy sugary drink options. For example, sugary drinks are not visible in a drinks fridge.

    Download: How to Limit Red Drinks Nudge

    Download: Red Drinks off Display Nudge

    Download: Nudge Data Collection Process

  • A business case for healthy food and drink policies in retail settings

    Across Victoria organisations have been making the change to increase availability and accessibility of healthier food and drink options and decrease availability and accessibility of less healthy food and drink options. VicHealth partnered with some of these leading organisations and Deakin University, to build the business case for the economic and health costs and benefits of implementing healthy food and drink policies in healthcare settings (Alfred Health) and sport and recreation facilities (YMCA Victoria, City of Melbourne & Melton City Council).

    These evaluation summaries and infographics tell the stories of the impacts of implementing healthy food and drink choices from the perspective of the retailer, and provide recommendations for other organisations planning on undertaking similar policy changes in their settings.


    Healthy Choices at Alfred Health

    “Alfred Health introduced a healthy food and beverage policy in 2012, at three hospitals in south east Melbourne. They made changes in retail food outlets, vending machines and catering, to provide a greater range of healthy food and drink options using the traffic light classification system.  Alfred Health’s largest retail food outlet was the focus of this research, which uncovers the impacts, challenges and recommendations for success when introducing healthier food and beverage options in similar settings.”

    Download: Alfred Health evaluation summary 

    Download: Alfred Health evaluation infographic


    Going soft drink free at YMCA Victoria aquatic and recreation centres

    In 2014 YMCA Victoria initiated the ‘Soft Drink Free Summer’ campaign, which aimed to phase out regular soft drinks from all centres by December 2015. This research discusses the impact of this campaign, including the extent of implementation, change in customer drink purchases, potential financial impact and the customer response to the changes at several YMCA Victoria centres.

    Download: YMCA Victoria evaluation summary

    Download: YMCA Victoria evaluation infographic

    Download: YMCA customer response evaluation infographic


    City of Melbourne increases healthier choices at North Melbourne Recreation Centre

    Following the development of its ‘Green Light Eat Right’ healthy food and drink policy in 2008, City of Melbourne began implementing the policy in North Melbourne Recreation Centre’s seasonal café in 2010. Evaluating the impact of these changes from the perspective of the retailer, this research summary outlines a number of useful recommendations for organisations planning to undertake similar policy changes to promote healthier choices.

    Download: City of Melbourne evaluation summary

    Download: City of Melbourne evaluation infographic 


    Melton City Council takes action on sugary drinks in sporting facilities

    “Recent health statistics raised concerns for Melton City about diet behaviours in the community. As a result, the council took action to decrease the availability of unhealthy sugary drinks, and increase the availability of healthier drinks in their sporting facilitiesThis infographic summarises the key health impacts and learnings from the perspective of the retailer.”

    Download: Melton City Council evaluation infographic


Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.