How changing our food systems can change population healthwith Amber Petty and Professor Anna Peeters
Unhealthy diets are the biggest contributor to burden of disease in Australia and internationally, but the ability to eat a healthy diet is not just about personal food choices. Internationally renowned public health researcher Professor Anna Peeters puts the case for why food environments need to change in order to make healthy options readily available and more attractive than unhealthy options.
In Australia, the number of adults living with obesity increased from one in ten in 1980, to one in three in 2019 – with similar increases in kids. While most of us want the best chance at health, we’re often at the mercy of powerful food environments – like supermarkets, or the local cafe – many of which get in the way of us making the healthier choices.
In this first episode of the Healing Health podcast, Professor Anna Peeters, Director of Deakin University’s Institute for Health Transformation, talks about how research into Australia’s food environments shows we can improve the healthiness of diets across our entire population – without food retailers taking a financial hit.
“Current food environments really drive us to buy or consume unhealthy options over healthy options, so that even though we know eating healthier is good for us, in reality it’s hard to do,” Anna says.
“But we know that the more you normalise healthy food options, the easier it becomes for people to choose them.”
“Supermarkets, fast food giants, the café at a health service all have a role to play in helping people choose a healthy diet over an unhealthy diet and evidence shows that food retailers can push healthy options without affecting their bottom line.”
A Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health at Deakin University, Anna is the lead investigator in the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Food Retail Environments for Health (RE-FRESH). She also sits on a number of national and international policy and research advisory groups, including for the World Cancer Research Fund.