Healthy Eating and Active Living Policy Workshop

Healthy Eating and Active Living Policy Workshop

Discussion Paper


Over the past two decades adult obesity has increased by about 40% with over 2 million Victorians now overweight or obese. We know that excess intake of food contributes to the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, tooth decay and poor oral health. While low levels of physical activity put us at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancers, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.

I was interested in understanding the thoughts of health professionals and others in my community on new ways to tackle this difficult health and wellbeing challenge, and on Wednesday 10 August I held a forum at Macedon Ranges Health to generate ideas to get more Victorians eating better and exercising more.

A great cross-section of community members participated with skills and experience including in:

  • Primary Health Management
  • Health Service Development
  • Dietary advice
  • Carer Advocacy
  • Paramedicine
  • Nursing
  • Community Sports Advocacy
  • Community Sports Management
  • Drug and Alcohol Support
  • Eating Disorder Support

This workshop, and your feedback on this discussion paper, will help shape future policy development as part of Labor’s commitment to reach out to our communities as we formulate new policies for the future.

Interestingly the group immediately understood the importance of supporting community wide shifts in behaviours, and as you will see the group focussed on how workplaces, businesses and sporting clubs can be encouraged to support our policy goals of more Victorians making healthy food choices and more Victorians being more physically active throughout their lives.

Participants were keen on ways government could ‘incentivise’ healthier eating and more active living using government funding and other interventions (including taxation) as both rewards and penalties.

The group also saw plenty of potential in new technologies, particularly games and apps to again influence our decision making and shape behaviours making towards more exercise and healthier eating options.

At this point all ideas are good ideas until proven otherwise. The questions posed at the workshop and the ideas they generated are listed below – they are pretty much verbatim – have a read and then it’s your turn.


Discussion Questions and Responses

What could State Government do to better promote and successfully achieve its key priority of healthy eating?

  • Encourage pubs and restaurants in local communities to create healthy menus, hold competitions and reward the winner
  • Find a way to make healthy options cheaper “Why would you buy a healthy option when you can buy a $5 Parma at your local pub”
  • Provide reduced Workcover payments to employers who provide a workplace with healthy options only
  • Establish health ratings for individual towns based on the provision of healthy choices with a ‘Healthy Town’ rating attached to those that have the highest rating.
  • Provide an incentive system in schools so that students are rewarded for choosing healthy options at the school canteen
  • Reduce portion sizes in food advertisements
  • Encourage sporting celebrities to only promote healthy food
  • Sell only healthy food at sporting events
  • Limit junk food advertising
  • Reward community sports clubs that have a healthier eating culture with more state government funding
  • Tax ‘junk food’ the unhealthier the food, the higher the tax placed on it.
  • Develop a government healthy eating app whereby customers can scan a product to see if it’s healthy or not
  • Traffic light style symbols (Red for unhealthy, orange for moderately healthy and green for healthy) on product packaging
  • Better promotion and advertising of fruit and vegetables, especially during kids programing
  • Ban junk food advertising during kids programing
  • Provide incentives for schools to provide healthy eating choices
  • Ensure that food cooked in Food Technology classes in schools is healthy
  • Ban sporting organisations that promote or sell unhealthy food options from being able to access government funding

What could the State Government do to better promote and successfully achieve its key priority of living an active lifestyle?

  • Create an app in the style of ‘Pokemon Go’ that would get the community out walking the streets and parks as family fun
  • Preferential traffic signals for people riding or walking. For example, two bicycle green lights for every car green light
  • Improve footpaths and street lighting so that people with mobility issues are not hampered from walking especially in our country towns
  • Ensure a diversity of activities that encourage active living (beyond organised sport)
  • Get more people dancing more often and incorporate mass community dancing into festivals and events.
  • Incorporate dancing into school classes for 15 minutes at the beginning of each school day
  • Reduce Workcover premiums for workplaces that promote active living (eg stand up desks, walking meetings)
  • Introduce a ‘Flybuy’ style card that provides reward points each time you use it to purchase gym membership, sports club membership or purchases at healthy food retailers.
  • Talk to GPs about formally ‘prescribing’ walking and other activities rather that medication
  • Provide good local recreation infrastructure that encourages children to go out and play rather than sit at home
  • Provide incentives for regional competitions to have ‘Masters’ competitions so that people who are past their sporting prime can continue to participate in organised sport
  • Provide additional support for children with a disability to participate in sport. “Disabled kids get support at school so why not at a sports club”
  • Work to build equity. Financially disadvantaged people cannot participate in sport due to the costs involved
  • Bring back Norm and the ‘Life Be In It’ campaign
  • Create distance markers around schools so that families know how far it is to walk or ride to school gates. Make walking or riding to school a game.


Now it’s time to have your say. What’s your idea in 30 words or less.

Facebook or email me now.

Mary-Anne Thomas

State Member for Macedon