Healthier eating in WA

Eating healthy food is important to reduce the risks of chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses.

Are we eating healthy food in WA?

In 2011-12, WA adults consumed 36% of their total energy intake from unhealthy discretionary foods and drinks (external site) that are high in saturated fat, salt, sugar or alcohol. Children consumed 38% of their energy intake from discretionary foods.

In 2017, only one in ten (9.4%) Western Australians aged 16 years and over ate sufficient daily serves of vegetables.

What is food security?

Food security is the ability of individuals, households and communities to acquire appropriate and nutritious foods on a regular and reliable basis using socially acceptable means. Increasing the local availability of food, especially fruit and vegetables, is an important strategy to increase healthy eating.

What are the benefits of healthy eating?

Having reliable access to affordable, nutritious and safe food is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of the community.

A healthy diet helps to reduce the risk of:

  • overweight and obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • type 2 diabetes
  • cardiovascular disease
  • some types of cancer.

Support for a local food supply can also help build a stronger and more sustainable local economy and social support networks.

Things local government may already be doing 

  • Supporting local community food growing projects in neighbourhood or childcare centres, or public open spaces
  • Encouraging growing of fruit trees and vegetables in public spaces, such as parks, gardens and streets by amending local laws
  • Supporting and promoting food festivals, local food trails and a calendar of local food events.

More things local government can do

  • Support local government leisure centres, swimming pools and other community centres to increase healthy options and avoid the promotion of unhealthy snacks, food and drink, through healthy food and drink policies (external site)
  • Provide community transport to get people to and from local shops or markets that sell fresh food
  • Develop a ‘how to’ guide to support communities in establishing farmers’ markets as well as school and community gardens
  • Encourage schools, hospitals, colleges, cafes and shops to source local produce by hosting ‘meet the buyer’ events and developing a directory of local producers 
  • Require developers to undertake social or health impact statements that incorporate food access issues before development plans are approved.

Small changes are a great way to start a healthier lifestyle. LiveLighter (external site) resources include free Meal Plans (external site) and Eat Brighter (external site) posters about seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Healthy Active by Design (external site) also has tools, practical advice, checklists and case studies to help with the development of built environments that encourage healthy eating.

Find more information on the roles of local government and suggested strategies in Pathway to Improving Food Security A Guide for Local Government.