Increasing healthy eating

The food and drink we consume plays an important role in our health and wellbeing. A healthy diet helps to maintain a healthy weight, prevent chronic disease and protect against premature death.

During the early years of life, good nutrition is essential for normal growth and physical and cognitive development. It also establishes good eating patterns that can be carried into adulthood.

Diet-related chronic conditions are among the leading causes of death and disability in Australia. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes are often related to not eating enough nutritious foods and eating too much food that is high in energy, saturated fat, added sugars and/or salt.

Our food choices are influenced by our food environment. This includes the shops, sports venues and workplaces we frequent, as well as schools and facilities we attend and the media we are exposed to. Too often these settings are dominated by unhealthy foods and drinks which makes healthy choices difficult.

We know people are more likely to choose to eat healthier food when they are empowered to make these choices. If we want to make meaningful and sustained changes in the way we eat, we must improve our food environments to make it easier for Canberrans to make healthier choices.

What we want to achieve

  • Lower intakes of energy-dense, nutrient poor (discretionary) foods and drinks.
  • Increased consumption of vegetables.

What is the ACT Government already doing in this area?

Healthier Choices Canberra
Healthier Choices Canberra is working with Canberra businesses and sporting clubs to increase the visibility and appeal of healthier foods with a focus on vegetables, fruit and water. Healthier Choices supports local junior sport clubs through the Gamechangers program to develop healthier sponsorships with local businesses. As part of Healthier Choices, Refill Canberra enables Canberrans to refill reusable water bottles with tap water for free at participating businesses.

Bush Tucker program
The Bush Tucker program aims to support Ngunnawal people to eat healthy food by removing barriers to collecting native resources and foods on ACT government managed lands. Ngunnawal bush tucker garden sites have been established at Mulligans Flat and the Botanic Gardens.

Healthy food and drink marketing
ACT Government Healthy Food & Drink advertising guidelines for public buses and light rail in Canberra aim to limit exposure to advertising of unhealthy food and drinks.

Healthy food and drink policies
ACT Public Sector Healthy Food and Drink Choices policy aims to increase the availability of healthy food and drink choices for staff, volunteers and visitors to ACTPS workplaces, facilities, activities and functions.

ACT Health Promotion Grants Program
In 2022, the Healthy Canberra Grants: Focus on Supporting Healthy and Active Children and Young People round was announced with a budget of $1.6 million. Recipients were announced in May 2023 and includes some programs which focus on healthy eating.

Addressing food security
The ACT Government continues to provide timely support to individuals and families experiencing disadvantage and financial stress with funding provided to OzHarvest and St Vincent de Paul Society to deliver the Food Assistance Program which provides people with access to quality food.

Drinking water fountains
The ACT Government continues to plan and install drinking fountains across the city to expand access to free water at places like sports grounds and local shops.

Community Garden Grants Program
The Community Garden Grants Program provides funding to community gardens across Canberra that meet one or more of the funding priorities, one of which includes promoting healthy living.

Fresh Tastes

Fresh Tastes continues to support ACT primary schools to embed a healthy food and drink culture with a key focus to build and maintain the capacity of ACT educators to deliver high-quality nutrition education in schools.

ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy

ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy promotes a consistent, whole school approach to the provision and sale of healthy food and drinks in ACT public schools and aligns with the National Healthy School Canteen Guidelines.