Trial takes aim at unhealthy food sales
Alfred Health has successfully slashed sales of unhealthy foods across all hospital sites by 30,000 meals each year as part of a new trial to tackle obesity and promote healthy eating.
The Point of Sale Traffic Light System trial also substantially boosted the number of healthy meals sold, while overall food sales remained consistent.
The new system was launched at The Alfred’s main cafe in August 2016 in a bid to steer consumers away from purchasing food that has low nutritional value and high fat, sugar and salt content. The café makes over 1.5 million sales each year to staff, patients and visitors.
Foods were divided into three colour-coded groups based on the traffic light system – red for limit, amber for choose carefully and green for best choices – and labelled accordingly. All food on display is accompanied by quirky slogan cards for example, green – ‘Mum would be proud’, yellow – ‘like a par in golf’, red – ‘maaaaaate’.
In the first three months, ‘red’ food sales decreased by 17 per cent, while ‘green’ food sales increased by 26 per cent and ‘amber’ food sales increased by 7 per cent.
Dietitian and Project Lead Kia Noble said it was important for health providers to lead by example when it came to food promotion on site.
“As one of Victoria’s leading public health providers, Alfred Health is committed to promoting a healthier population and reducing the number of people who need our services,” Kia said.
“Obesity is a growing epidemic in Australia and it’s one of the primary causes of a whole range of health problems. Preventing obesity begins with educating people about what they’re eating.
“We recognise that if we want to empower individuals to choose healthier options, we need to engage them in the process. So we created the nudge statements for each traffic light colour that speak to directly the consumer.
“We didn’t want to dictate to people or take away their choices, this system is about helping people make the right choices and we’re really happy with the results. Our retailers are also happy because it hasn’t affected their bottom line.”
This initiative follows on from the success of the ‘No More Sugar Coating’ trial, which saw the number of sugar-sweetened drinks sold at The Alfred decrease by 36,500 annually.
The system was recently launched at Central Gippsland Health, following on from the success of the Alfred Health trial. Resources are available for other health services and interested organisations to utilise.