Unhealthy diet is the leading risk factor for chronic disease worldwide, and in high-income countries leads to many poor health outcomes, including overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, dental decay, and mental health problems. How is it possible that, despite global agreement on the now critical need to improve population diet, little progress has been made? At the core of the problem lies the fact that eating unhealthy food is now easier than eating healthily. Food retail environments, where citizens source most of the food they consume, currently incentivize and promote unhealthy food choices, leading directly to poor health outcomes. Existing calls for change have focussed largely on encouraging individuals to improve their food choices, which – while important – has proven to be an inadequate approach to improving population diets. Global recommendations have typically paid little attention to the role of the retailer in creating environments that encourage healthy food purchases. In this talk I will explore new solutions that are more robustly positioned within the reality of our large and complex food system, so as to be feasible for retailers while also improving population diets. These solutions act across all our food retail environments and provide some evidence that healthy food retail can become the new norm for food business.
Anna Peeters is Director of the Institute for Healthcare Transformation, Professor of Epidemiology and Equity in Public Health, and Associate Director of the Global Obesity Centre, at Deakin University. She is Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Obesity Society and sits on national and international advisory boards and steering committees. In 2014 she was awarded the prestigious World Obesity Federation Andre Mayer Award for research excellence in obesity and a Churchill Award for innovative work in equity and population prevention.