Journal article

Supporting healthy drink choices in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: a community‐led supportive environment approach

Indigenous health Primary health care soft drinks Australia

Abstract:The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found more than half (56%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participants had consumed a sugary drink in the day prior to interview, compared to 42% of other Australians. Consumption of sugary drinks increases with remoteness, with 13.1% of adults living in outer regional and remote Australia consuming sugary drinks daily compared to 8.3% living in major cities.

Objectives: To create supportive environments to reduce sugary drink consumption and increase water consumption by partnering with remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Cape York

Importance of study:  Partnering with community leaders in the co-design of strategies to create environments that support healthy drink consumption can stimulate local action and may positively affect drink consumption.

Study type: This paper applied qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate a co-designed multi-strategy health promotion initiative, implemented over 12 months from 2017 to 2018. Outcome measures included changes in community readiness, awareness of the social marketing campaign and changes in drink availability. Changes in store drink sales were measured in one community and compared to sales in a control store.

Conclusion: A multi-component strategy with strong engagement from local government, community leaders and the wider community was associated with positive changes in community readiness, drink availability and sales.

Key Findings:

  • Taking a collaborative approach to develop and implement a co-designed social marketing campaign and community-led supportive environment actions can improve access to healthier drinks and may affect consumption of sugary drinks and water in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Community involvement, aligning implemented activities to community readiness and a focus on positive messaging are likely to contribute to these positive outcomes.
  • Aboriginal Shire Councils and local organisations are well-placed to be supported to take action in their communities and create healthy places that support healthy choices.
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