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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Healthier choices for Canberra

As many Canberrans are leading busy lives, the familiar sound of “we’re hungry” when we’re out and about with the kids often starts a challenging search to find healthier food and drinks. Not only is there lots of conflicting advice about what’s healthier, most of us don’t have time to be reading nutrition labels.

A recent survey found 60% of Canberrans said they were concerned about the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to children, with overwhelming support for businesses to promote healthier options.

The ACT Government’s Healthier Choices Canberra (HCC) initiative is taking the guesswork out of eating well when you’re out and about. The initiative will see Canberrans offered healthier food options in supermarkets, clubs, cafes, kids’ entertainment centres and hospital cafes. It is all about making it easier to find tasty, fresh and healthier foods in places often frequented by families and children. You can easily find healthier options on kids’ menus where there’s a ‘HC’ icon, or on the green Healthier Choices Canberra shelf tickets in supermarkets.

Kids’ menu options are a large focus of the initiative, with participating businesses changing up their menus to offer healthier kids’ meals and meal deals. Jeremy Wilson, Secretary Manager at the RUC in Turner, says their new ‘good intentions’ menu will have more salads and seafood and healthier kids’ meals.

“We’re trying to broaden the range for them,” he says. “We’ll have healthier sides options, and the free drink that comes with the kids’ meals won’t be soft drink.”

Let’s Play in Nicholls and Mega Bites at Questacon will both be participating in the program. Let’s Play Manager Ali McGregor says the kids’ entertainment venue has always had healthier food options, and the HCC program is a great way to showcase them. “We see that kids often want a healthier option and until now haven’t been encouraged to take it,” she says.

“[Mega Bites] is a venue that mostly serves tourists and kids, and there is definitely a demand for healthier options,” says Manager Ashley Morrisey.

Liz Howarth from the Canberra Business Chamber, who has partnered with ACT Health on the program, says HCC has been embraced by a range of businesses. “Through these businesses, the community have more healthy eating choices and more information available to them when it comes to food purchases,” she says.

Despite cinemas being an “indulgent” experience, Limelight Cinemas in Tuggeranong have also joined the program. Director of Operations Michael Singh says they have brought in smaller ‘snack’ sizes of drinks and popcorn as opposed to the traditionally large offerings, and fat-free frozen yoghurt as an alternative to choc-tops.

For more information about the HCC program, visit www.act.gov.au/healthierchoices

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Ian Cubitts
Ian Cubitts