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Supermarket Healthy Eating for Life (SHELf): protocol of a randomised controlled trial promoting healthy food and beverage consumption through price reduction and skill-building strategies

Kylie Ball1*, Sarah A McNaughton1, Cliona Ni Mhurchu2, Nick Andrianopoulos5, Victoria Inglis3, Briohny McNeilly1, Ha ND Le4, Deborah Leslie1, Christina Pollard6 and David Crawford1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Burwood Hwy, Burwood, 3125, Australia

2 Clinical Trials Research Unit, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

3 Coles Supermarkets, Toorak Rd, Hawthorn East, 3123, Australia

4 Deakin Health Economics, Deakin University, Burwood Hwy, Burwood, 3125, Australia

5 School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, 3004, Australia

6 Nutrition & Physical Activity Branch, Health Department Western Australia, East Perth 6004, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:715  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-715

Published: 22 September 2011



In the context of rising food prices, there is a need for evidence on the most effective approaches for promoting healthy eating. Individually-targeted behavioural interventions for increasing food-related skills show promise, but are unlikely to be effective in the absence of structural supports. Fiscal policies have been advocated as a means of promoting healthy eating and reducing obesity and nutrition-related disease, but there is little empirical evidence of their effectiveness. This paper describes the Supermarket Healthy Eating for LiFe (SHELf) study, a randomised controlled trial to investigate effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a tailored skill-building intervention and a price reduction intervention, separately and in combination, against a control condition for promoting purchase and consumption of healthy foods and beverages in women from high and low socioeconomic groups.


SHELf comprises a randomised controlled trial design, with participants randomised to receive either (1) a skill-building intervention; (2) price reductions on fruits, vegetables and low-joule soft drink beverages and water; (3) a combination of skill-building and price reductions; or (4) a control condition. Five hundred women from high and low socioeconomic areas will be recruited through a store loyalty card program and local media. Randomisation will occur on receipt of informed consent and baseline questionnaire. An economic evaluation from a societal perspective using a cost-consequences approach will compare the costs and outcomes between intervention and control groups.


This study will build on a pivotal partnership with a major national supermarket chain and the Heart Foundation to investigate the effectiveness of intervention strategies aimed at increasing women's purchasing and consumption of fruits and vegetables and decreased purchasing and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. It will be among the first internationally to examine the effects of two promising approaches - skill-building and price reductions - on diet amongst women.

Trial Registration

Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN39432901