DIET: Helping to improve nutrition and health in New Zealand

Unhealthy diet is the leading preventable risk for poor health. Dietary risk factors (e.g. high salt intake, raw wholegrain intake and low fruit and vegetable consumption) and obesity rates are higher amongst Māori and Pasifika and key drivers of health inequalities. However, small improvements in diet across the whole population could produce major health gains and cost savings, and reduce inequalities.

The DIET programme will evaluate the effects of four priority action areas to improve diets. The objectives are to:

  1. Determine the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a dietary salt reduction intervention in adults with high blood pressure
  2. Co-design and test commercially sustainable supermarket intervention(s) to promote healthy eating
  3. Measure the impact of front-of-pack nutrition labels (Health Star Rating- HSR) on population diets
  4. Assess the effects of a theory-driven campaign to promote improvements to the nutritional composition of processed foods

This new research extends our previous work, with a particular emphasis on practical interventions and translating findings into policy and action. The programme is funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand.


Find out more about our exciting projects

SALTS - Salt ALTernatives Study
Co-designing and testing retail interventions
Health Star Rating Evaluation

Latest News

In this blog we share the lessons we learnt during the conduct of SALTS, a remote blood pressure lowering trial in Aotearoa, New Zealand, where a smartphone app was part of the intervention package.


We aimed to compare New Zealand private label and branded label packaged food products in relation to their current (2019) healthiness (sodium and sugar contents, and estimated Health Star Rating (HSR) score), display of the voluntary HSR nutrition label on the package, and price. To read more click here.

The widely recognized association between high sugar intakes and adverse health outcomes has increased consumer demand for products lower in sugar. This may lead to increased use of other sweeteners by the food industry.

Assessing trends in relative availability, sugar content and serve size of ready-to-drink non-alcoholic beverages available for sale in supermarkets from 2013 to 2019.