UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Recreation Facility Food and Beverage Environments in Ontario, Canada: An Appeal for Policy Caswell, Susan; Naylor, Patti-Jean; Olstad, Dana; Kirk, Sara; Mâsse, Louise C.; Raine, Kim; Hanning, Rhona


Canadian, municipally funded recreation/sport facilities typically have unhealthy food environments. Ontario, unlike some provinces, lacks a voluntary recreation facility nutrition policy. This study assessed the healthfulness of food environments and vending sales in 16 Ontario recreation/sport facilities and, secondarily, compared data from facilities within municipalities that banned versus permitted plastic bottled-water sales (water-ban, n = 8; water, n = 8) to test the nutritional effects of environmental policy. Concession and vending packaged food/beverage offerings and vending sales were audited twice, eighteen months apart. The products were categorized using nutrition guidelines as Sell Most (SM), Sell Sometimes (SS), and Do Not Sell (DNS). Both water and water-ban facilities offered predominantly (>87%) DNS packaged food items. However, proportions of DNS and SM concession and vending beverages differed (p < 0.01). DNS beverages averaged 74% and 88% of vending offerings in water and water-ban facilities, respectively, while SM beverages averaged 14% and 1%, respectively. Mirroring offerings, DNS beverages averaged 79% and 90% of vending sales in water versus water-ban facilities. Ontario recreation/sport facilities provided unhealthy food environments; most food/beverage offerings were energy-dense and nutrient-poor. Water bans were associated with increased facility-based exposure to DNS beverage options. A nutrition policy is recommended to make recreation facility food/beverage environments healthier and to mitigate unintended negative consequences of bottled-water bans.

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