Skip to main content
Stay updated

Removing sugary drinks from council facilities

12 Mar 2021
Research and Publications

Read this toolkit about how local governments can support community health and wellbeing by creating healthy food and drink environments in local sport and recreation facilities.

Download: Water in Sport evaluation (PDF, 3 MB)



Key messages

  • Research shows that the types of food and drink available in the environments in which we live, work, learn and play can influence what we consume.

  • By providing healthy food retail environments in council-owned facilities, local governments can support community health and wellbeing.

  • The Water in Sport project supported 8 local governments from 2018-2020 to improve access to water and healthy drink options in their local sport and recreation facilities.

  • Key learnings and outcomes from the Water in Sport project were used to develop a toolkit to support people in creating healthy food and drink environments,and a series of council case studies.

Download: A toolkit for creating healthy food and drink environments in community food retail outlets (PDF, 729 KB)


About the Water in Sport project

Between 2018-2020, VicHealth supported 8 local governments to improve access to water and healthy drink options in their local sport and recreation facilities. 

This project was built on the learning's and outcomes from previous VicHealth investments to help promote water as the drink of choice in sporting environments. 

Making water the drink of choice instead of sugary drinks, is a significant first step to implementing the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines. 

Key aims of the project for each council included:

  1. Increasing the promotion and supply of water and reducing the availability of sugary drinks in multiple community sports and recreation facilities.

  2. Developing or strengthening council policies and practices, to create longer-term changes to increase the promotion, access and supply of water across council-owned sport and recreation facilities.

To support project implementation, the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS) provided program delivery support to each council and Deakin University oversaw the evaluation. 

Project officers helped to introduce a ‘nudge’ to encourage customers to buy healthier drinks.

‘Nudges’ involved either limiting sugary drink availability to less than 20% of fridge display, or completely removing sugary drinks out of sight. 

Drinks available at each outlet were classified according to the Victorian Government’s Healthy Choices guidelines as:

  • ‘GREEN’ (‘best choice’); 

  • ‘AMBER’ (‘choose carefully’) or 

  • ‘RED’ (‘limit’).

What were the results? 

  • 39 facilities made changes to create healthy drinks environments.

  • Overall, availability of ‘GREEN’ drinks increased from 43% to 63% of all drinks and ‘RED’ drinks decreased from 39% to 11%. 

  • Every council has taken steps to implement healthy food retail facility policies to sustain the changes. As of February 2020, 4 councils had implemented healthy food retail policies.


What’s in the toolkit?

This toolkit focuses on the changes made to drinks during the Water in Sport project, however many of these recommendations can also be applied to making healthy changes to food. 

The toolkit provides:

  • advice on deciding which community food retail outlets to work with

  • how to engage with community food retail outlets and suggesting what healthy changes to make

  • step-by-step advice on how to put together, monitor and assess changes in community food retail settings to encourage healthier eating and drinking

  • recommendations for policy development to support healthy food retail environments

  • a range of data collection tools, and marketing and training resources created by the Water in Sport project officers and HEAS.


Who is this toolkit for?

This toolkit is designed for anyone interested in supporting the health of their community.

However, it will be very useful for health promotion officers (or similar) employed by a local government seeking to create a healthy food and drinks environment in their community food retail outlets, such as:

  • sport and recreation facilities

  • arts centres

  • community halls

  • libraries

  • club facilities.


Council case studies

VicHealth partnered with 8 local councils in the Water in Sport project to reduce sugary drink consumption. The following case studies summarise the results of their work to create healthy food and drink retail environments in their sports and recreation facilities.

Download case study for: City of Greater Bendigo

Download case study for: East Gippsland Shire Council

Download case study for: Frankston City Council

Download case study for: City of Greater Geelong

Download case study for: Greater Shepparton City Council

Download case study for: Melton City Council

Download case study for: Northern Grampians Shire

Download case study for: Yarra Ranges Council

Download case study for: Overall results from 8 local government areas


More information

Find out more about VicHealth’s work with settings to increase access to water by visiting:


Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

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