Issue addressed: Local governments are uniquely placed to influence the food environment of their communities through healthy eating policies (HEPs) but very few have done so.
Methods: Using a community-based participatory approach, Healthy Eating Local Policies and Programs built the capacity of South Australian local governments to develop and implement a HEP by leading the development of a HEP framework then mentoring local governments to develop their own local policy tailored to their community.
Results: Over a 2-year period, 31 of the 68 local governments worked towards developing a HEP, with 14 receiving endorsement by December 2013.
Conclusions: Local governments are ready to model healthy eating practices and adopt healthy eating policy that supports the health of their communities. A HEP developed using a participatory approach and with the flexibility to be tailored to local preferences and demographics appears feasible, although the process may be lengthy. This process and outcome appears applicable and transferable to other local governments.
So what? As local governments take up their responsibilities in promoting health and wellbeing, HEPs provide important structural mechanisms to enable councils to facilitate healthy eating in their local communities.