Background: Indigenous Australians suffer a disproportionate burden of preventable chronic disease compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts – much of it diet-related. Increasing fruit and vegetable intakes and reducing sugar-sweetened soft-drink consumption can reduce the risk of preventable chronic disease. There is evidence from some general population studies that subsidising healthier foods can modify dietary behaviour. There is little such evidence relating specifically to socio-economically disadvantaged populations, even though dietary behaviour in such populations is arguably more likely to be susceptible to such interventions.
This study aims to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of a price discount intervention with or without an in-store nutrition education intervention on purchases of fruit, vegetables, water and diet soft-drinks among remote Indigenous communities.
Methods/Design: We will utilise a randomised multiple baseline (stepped wedge) design involving 20 communities in remote Indigenous Australia. The study will be conducted in partnership with two store associations and twenty Indigenous store boards. Communities will be randomised to either i) a 20% price discount on fruit, vegetables, water and diet soft-drinks; or ii) a combined price discount and in-store nutrition education strategy. These interventions will be initiated, at one of five possible time-points, spaced two-months apart. Weekly point-of-sale data will be collected from each community store before, during, and for six months after the six-month intervention period to measure impact on purchasing of discounted food and drinks. Data on physical, social and economic factors influencing weekly store sales will be collected in order to identify important covariates. Intervention fidelity and mediators of behaviour change will also be assessed.
Discussion: This study will provide original evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of price discounts with or without an in-store nutrition education intervention on food and drink purchasing among a socio-economically disadvantaged population in a real-life setting.