Fruit and vegetables ‘out of reach’ for Tasmanians, university study

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th July 2014
Fruit and vegetables 'out of reach' for Tasmanians, university study
Fruit and vegetables ‘out of reach’ for Tasmanians, university study

The price of healthy food is unaffordable for many Tasmanian households and this is partly due to the shopping choices available in Tasmanian towns and neighbourhoods according to new research from the University of Tasmania.

The new findings from the University of Tasmania Healthy Food Basket Survey showed some Tasmanian families need to spend more than 40 per cent of their household budget to eat for good health. Additionally, of the shops in Tasmania where consumers can buy fresh fruit and vegetables, only 5 per cent were located in low income areas.

Heart Foundation points to low availability

Heart Foundation CEO Tasmania Graeme Lynch said in low income areas the research found that fruit and vegetables were more expensive with reduced variety and availability.

“Unfortunately, the most disadvantaged in our communities are the ones who find it really challenging to eat a healthy diet,” Mr Lynch said.

Is centralisation of supermarket distribution making fresh produce expensive in regional areas?

Previously some commentators have suggested that the logistical arrangements for the transport and centralised market market distribution of foods in Queensland through a capital city hub in Brisbane had prevented farmers from selling their produce locally directly into nearby supermarkets.

Australian Food News has also previously reported high distribution costs for fresh produce in regional and inland areas.

Tasmanian survey results point to the need for Healthy Food Access Project

The Heart Foundation Tasmania said the University of Tasmania survey results would support action to address these challenges through the Healthy Food Access Project, run by the Heart Foundation and funded by Tasmania Medicare Local through the Australian Government’s Tasmanian Health Assistance Package.

At the Local Government of Tasmania Conference held on Thursday 24 July 2014, the Heart Foundation will announce that a total of $480,000 will be offered under the project to fund initiatives across Tasmania in communities that are most impacted by the study findings.

“This information gives local governments a clearer picture of how hard it is for some households to afford and access healthy food in their area,” Mr Lynch said.

“It’s not just the responsibility of local governments,” Mr Lynch said. “This will also require business, health, communities, food growers and all levels of government to work together to find local solutions that are sustainable over the long term,” he said.

“We know fruit and vegetable intake in Tasmania is dismal – only 10 per cent eat the recommended five serves or more of vegetables and 44 per cent eat the recommended two serves of fruit,” Mr Lynch said. “Through this project, we hope to change those statistics and help fight against chronic disease in Tasmania,” he said .

“Everyone should have the opportunity to make choices that allow them to live a long healthy life, regardless of their income, location, education or background,” he said.

Tasmania Medicare Local’s Manager – Social Determinants of Health, Ms Maree Gleeson, said healthy food was an important building block for good health.

“We talk about the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, play and age, which can be underlying reasons why people experience poor health,” Ms Gleeson said.

“Being able to find and afford healthy food is a significant social determinant of health,” Ms Gleeson said. “Some communities are already responding to this challenge in a really positive way with initiatives such as engaging local people in growing, cooking and selling healthy produce,” she said.

“This project is an opportunity to build on the great work already being done as well as coming up with new grassroots solutions,” Ms Gleeson said.