Healthy Food and Drink Policy Evaluation

Investigating the impact of the voluntary National Healthy Food and Drink Policy

January 2020 – December 2022

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Unhealthy diet is the leading preventable risk for poor health globally.  In New Zealand, dietary risks are now the leading cause of health loss, followed by high BMI.  The rate of obesity in New Zealand adults is amongst the highest in the world and continues to climb.

Research shows that small improvements in diet across the whole population could produce major health gains, reduce health inequities and result in cost savings for the health system.

In 2016, a new National Healthy Food and Drink Policy was adopted by the Ministry of Health. The Policy, which is voluntary, is designed to support and encourage District Health Boards (DHBs) and other public sector institutions to provide healthier food and drink options in line with New Zealand guidelines.

This research will investigate the implementation of the National Healthy Food and Drink Policy as a natural experiment with potential to improve population diets and health.

The specific research objectives are to:

  1. measure the adoption of the Policy and its level of implementation in DHBs and central government agencies;
  2. quantify the impact of the Policy;
  3. identify and test resources to support Policy implementation;
  4. examine the equity implications of the Policy for Māori, Pasifika and low-income New Zealanders.


NHFDP team Cliona, Jacqui, Sarah, Lisa 2

Cliona Ni Mhurchu, Jacqui Grey, Sarah Gerritsen and Lisa Te Morenga at the Healthier Lives Kōrero Tahi 2019

Science leader and principal investigator:

Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu, University of Auckland

Associate investigators:

Dr Sally Mackay, University of Auckland

Dr Sarah Gerritsen, University of Auckland

Dr Lisa Te Morenga, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Yannan Jiang, University of Auckland

Ms Magda Rosin, University of Auckland

Ms Jacqui Grey, University of Auckland


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