A collaborative project between Healthy Families Waitākere and the University of Auckland has identified systemic barriers leading to tamariki (children) not receiving the recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake. The project results were recently shared at the annual Activity and Nutrition Aotearoa (ANA) conference in Auckland.

Through this project, Healthy Families Waitākere Food Systems Innovator, Michele Eickstaedt, and University of Auckland Research Fellow, Dr Sarah Gerristen, identified a West Auckland suburb chosen for its culturally diverse community.

To understand the eating habits of tamariki and wider whānau in West Auckland, the team engaged with community leaders, parents, students, public health professionals and members of the local food industry, gaining a birds-eye view of the food systems in play. 

Michele Eickstaedt (pictured, middle) says it was a chance for the community to confirm what barriers they saw to healthier eating, whereby a number of common themes were identified.
“The feedback largely focussed on the fast food environment in West Auckland, both in community spaces and at home.”

“One individual pointed out how an app showed local 117 eateries which could deliver food in under 20 minutes, none of which were healthy options. A number of parents also talked about the difficulties faced to change behaviour, when so much junk food is sold right outside the school gates.”

Michele says the team are excited to be moving on with to next phase of the project, where concepts on how to promote healthier eating will be explored and prototyped with the community.