Promoting environments that foster healthy eating

Stengthening community and reducing health inequities is one of the ways that Community and Public Health aims to improve the health and wellbeing of the people in our region. We do this by providing education, taking a system-based approach and advocating policies that make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Specific work is focussed on actions and outcomes to create change in food, nutrition and physical activity environments and behaviours, such as increasing access to food (food security).

Community and Public Health staff work towards creating nutrition environments that foster and enable healthy eating, along with resources that support actions to reduce poor nutrition that may result in chronic disease. The key messages for a healthy lifestyle include:

  • Eat a variety of nutritious foods.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Eat less processed foods that are often fatty, salty, and sugary.
  • Exclusively breastfeed infants for six months where possible, and introduce complementary foods while breastfeeding continues for at least one year and beyond.
  • Be active every day for at least 30 minutes in as many ways as possible.
  • Add some vigorous exercise and resistance for extra benefit and fitness.
  • Aim to maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
  • Promote and foster the development of environments that support healthy lifestyles.

COVID-19 Lockdowns took a toll on New Zealanders’ diets

Most people consumed more unhealthy snacks and drinks during lockdown, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Auckland.

The COVID Kai Survey of 3,028 people ran from 24th April to 13th May 2020 when New Zealand was at alert levels three and four. Most people increased consumption of foods and drinks classified as unhealthy, such as sweet and salty snacks, white bread and pasta, processed meat and sugary drinks.

The results suggest the government should put more emphasis on nutrition during any future lockdowns, according to the authors led by Dr Sarah Gerritsen, of the School of Population Health in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.

Two-out-of-three people increased their score on an unhealthy diet measure, with 40 percent eating more sweet snacks and 33% eating more salty snacks. One-third of respondents increased alcohol intake and 20 percent drank more sugary drinks.

Dr Gerritsen said: “With the restaurants, fast-food chains and take-away outlets closed, we wondered if more home-cooked meals would result in healthier eating over the lockdown. But independent grocers, and fruit and vegetable stores were also closed which may have limited options for buying healthy food.”

Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations – which remained open during the lockdown “are characterised by heavy marketing of ultraprocessed foods which can have excessive energy and are high in added sugar and salt,” said Dr Gerritsen.

New Zealanders are not the only ones who have struggled to eat healthily during the pandemic. Research from around the world shows time at home, boredom, and heightened stress lead to more snacking, partly because food is constantly available at home.

Nourishing Futures with Better Kai

Community and Public Health West Coast developed this resource for parents of toddlers and young children.

This booklet is designed to help parents with all things nutrition for their little one, to set them up for healthy habits throughout their life.

Promoting nutrition in education and community settings

Promote nutrition in community and education settings has a direct impact on the health and motivation of those involved, including staff, and children or students.

Current work by Community and Public Health staff includes:


Helping to create healthier workplaces

Current initiatives in workplaces are focussed on assisting workplaces in the development of wellness programmes.
There is growing evidence that comprehensive workplace health promotion programs are cost effective and improve employee health. Identified benefits include increased employee satisfaction and retention, and decreased absenteeism and injuries on the job.

Community and Public Health has developed a framework that is flexible and easily adapted to suit the needs of an organisation. The framework consists of a step-by-step process through several different elements to create a tailored health promotion programme. This approach has been shown to increase morale in the workplace as employees work together to meet the challenges of adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Working to improve food resilience in Christchurch and Canterbury

Community and Public Health has an advisory role with the Food Resilience Network (FRN). The Network is the home of Edible Canterbury – a movement advocating for healthy and strengthened communities by:

  • supporting existing local food producers;
  • encouraging and educating for more locally grown food; and
  • fostering relationships with key players in the food system to build a healthy resilient Canterbury.

A key project for the Food Resilience Network is the development of Ōtākaro Orchard – a highly accessible, engaging, and unique orchard and garden in central Christchurch. The completed space will show sustainable and organic food systems in practice and build on its history as a place to gather mahinga kai.

Community and Public Health is also a signatory to the Edible Canterbury Charter.

Advice on healthy lifestyles for adults, children and teenagers

Eating well, drinking plenty of water, being active and getting enough quality sleep are key elements to help support a healthy lifestyle as well as increasing your energy levels, supporting mental health, and maintaining activities of daily living.



For more information, contact:

Bek Parry
Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Ph: +64 3 307 6902
Fax: +64 3 307 6904

Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091

Jade Winter
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169

Contacts for individual or specialist nutrition support and advice

Registered Dietitians and Nutritionists help people to improve their health and lifestyle through optimal nutrition.

Feeding your family for less or on a budget

Community and Public Health staff are also interested in addressing issues around access and availability of affordable food (food security). This involves working with disadvantaged groups such as those on low incomes and those living alone (especially men). If you are finding it hard to make your food budget stretch, then try one of the following menu plans for some new ideas.

The Heart Foundation also produces two cookbooks of nutritious recipes on a budget:

Programmes to boost nutrition knowledge and literacy

Appetite for Life (AFL) is a six-week healthy lifestyle programme. The programme focuses on small changes adding up to large improvements rather than dieting.

Senior Chef is a programme helping those 56 years and older. The programme teaches meal planning, budgeting, and how to cook simple nutritious meals.

Join the Fruit and Vegetable Co-op in greater Christchurch

The Fruit and Vegetable Co-op is now called Foodtogether. It operates as a stand-alone social enterprise in Christchurch and North Canterbury, and is supported by the Healthy Life Trust.

There are also other fruit and vegetable co-operatives in Christchurch such as the:

Page last updated: 15/01/2021

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