The project was developed after community concern about the high rates of type two diabetes and obesity, and involves making changes like moving soft drinks from the fridge to the shelf and taking sugary snacks away from busy sections of stores.
Natalie Ahmat, Mikele Syron

8 Oct 2020 - 7:02 PM  UPDATED 8 Oct 2020 - 7:02 PM

The Healthy Stores project has been running in 20 remote shops operated by the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation (ALPA) across the Northern Territory and Queensland.

Developed in response to community concerns about the high rates of dietary related conditions such as type two diabetes and obesity, it involved making simple changes such as storing soft drinks on the shelf, rather than in the fridge and moving sugary snacks away from the busiest parts of the stores.

The 12-week trial showed that the equivalent of 1.8 tonnes less of sugar was sold.

Kiah De Silva, the health and nutritional manager for ALPA told NITV News that high consumption of unhealthy foods and drinks was concerning.

“One of the key strategies within our policies is forming collaborations with our researchers to trial strategies that are going to support customers in making healthy food choices, without taking the choice away from them," she said.

Healthy Stores 2020 was established by Monash University in partnership with ALPA and implemented across 14 Northern Territory and 6 Queensland remote community stores, in a bid to promote healthy food and drinks.

The study, which was published by the Lancet Planetary Health, showed that the initiative resulted in a 6.8% reduction in free sugars purchased from sugar-sweetened beverages and a 7.8% reduction in the purchase of confectionary with a 10.1% increase in the sale of healthier drinks in stores where large unit soft drinks were removed from the refrigerator.

Ms De Silva said that she hoped that the strategy would be widely considered by other community stores because of the improved health outcomes in remote communities.

“We reduced the promotion of unhealthy foods and drinks, such as price discounts or free giveaways, and relocated them from high traffic areas to reduce impulse purchasing. We shifted it to only have the promotion of healthy options or non-food items,” said Ms De Silva.