Latrobe City takes the healthy road

ALMOST 100 people have made the switch to fresh and healthy meals from fast and packaged food, following a six-month program.

The Healthy Together Latrobe team worked with parents from primary schools, early childhood centres and community organisations on the three-stage approach ‘FOODcents’.

They were given a supermarket tour to learn how to get value for money on their food bill; undertaking a budgeting and cooking session.

“The underlying message is healthy food doesn’t have to be more expensive than unhealthy food if you shop smartly,” Latrobe Community Health Service health promotion officer Nikki Visser said.

“We had really positive feedback from participants and stories about friends going over for dinner and instead of buying takeaway, they ate a home-cooked meal.

“Schools have seen parents packing healthier lunch boxes as a result of being in the program. It’s great.”

The program comes after 2012 Victorian Population Health Survey data revealed 60.6 per cent of Latrobe’s population is overweight or obese and only seven per cent eat the recommended servings of fruit and vegetables every day.

In a bid to examine why this is the case, HTL last year conducted research which found for every one fresh food outlet, there were 3.7 takeaway or fast food outlets in the Latrobe Valley.

“For people to eat well, it’s not just knowing what healthy foods are, it’s the environment and access to foods,” Food system research officer Julia McCartan said.

The research also found the cost of a ‘healthy food basket’ in Latrobe was more than $30 more expensive than the Victorian average.

Ms McCartan said the study found healthy food was more expensive for those living in one of the smaller townships as compared with major centres in the Latrobe Valley.