Advertisement

Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp e167–e169 | Cite as

Profit Versus Public Health: The Need to Improve the Food Environment in Recreational Facilities

  • Dana Lee OlstadEmail author
  • Kim D. Raine
Commentary

Abstract

Despite their wellness mandate, many publicly funded recreational facilities offer primarily unhealthy foods. Governments have developed programs and resources to assist facilities to improve their food offerings, however the challenge to incent preferential sale of healthier foods remains substantial. In the Canadian province of Alberta, uptake of government-issued voluntary nutrition guidelines for recreational facilities has been limited, and offers of free assistance to implement them as part of a research study were not embraced. Financial constraints appear to be the most important barrier to offering healthier items in Alberta’s recreational facilities, as facility and food service managers perceive that selling healthier foods is unprofitable and might jeopardize sponsorship agreements. Mandatory government regulation may therefore be required to overcome the barriers to offering healthier foods in this setting. The advantages of a regulatory approach appear to outweigh any disadvantages, with benefits for population health, more effective use of public funds, and greater equity for the public and industry. Adverse effects on corporate profitability and freedom of choice are expected to be limited. Regulation may offer an efficient, effective and equitable means of ensuring that recreational facilities support child health and do not undermine it by exposing children to unhealthy food environments.

Key Words

Nutrition policy obesity public health food industry child recreation 

Résumé

Malgré leur mandat de favorisation du mieux-être, de nombreuses installations récréatives subventionnées par l’État servent principalement des aliments malsains. Les gouvernements élaborent des programmes et des ressources pour aider ces installations à améliorer leur menu, mais il demeure très difficile de les inciter à vendre de préférence des aliments sains. Dans la province de l’Alberta, au Canada, les lignes directrices volontaires publiées par le gouvernement en matière de nutrition sont peu suivies dans les installations récréatives, même lorsqu’on offre gratuitement une assistance pour appliquer ces lignes directrices, comme ce fut le cas dans le cadre d’une étude de recherche. Les contraintes budgétaires semblent être le principal obstacle à l’offre d’aliments sains dans les installations récréatives de l’Alberta; les gestionnaires de ces installations et des services d’alimentation jugent que la vente d’aliments sains n’est pas rentable et qu’elle peut compromettre les accords de commandites. Il faudrait peut-être envisager une approche réglementaire obligatoire pour surmonter les obstacles à l’offre d’aliments sains dans ces établissements. Les avantages de l’approche réglementaire (effets bénéfiques sur la santé des populations, utilisation plus efficace des fonds publics, plus d’équité pour le public et l’industrie) semblent l’emporter sur ses éventuels inconvénients. Ses effets indésirables sur la rentabilité des entreprises et la liberté de choix devraient être mineurs. La réglementation pourrait donc être un moyen efficient, efficace et équitable de faire en sorte que les installations récréatives favorisent la santé des enfants, au lieu de la miner en exposant ces enfants à des environnements alimentaires malsains.

Mots Clés

politique nutritionnelle obésité santé publique industrie alimentaire enfant loisir 

References

  1. 1.
    Chaumette P, Morency S, Royer A, Lemieux S, Tremblay A. Food environment in the sports, recreational and cultural facilities of Quebec City: A look at the situation. Can J Public Health 2009;100(4):310–14.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Naylor PJ, Bridgewater L, Purcell M, Ostry A, Wekken, SV. Publically funded recreation facilities: Obesogenic environments for children and families? Int J Environ Res Public Health 2010;7(5):2208–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Olstad D, Downs S, Raine K, Berry T, McCargar L. Improving children’s nutrition environments: A survey of adoption and implementation of nutrition guidelines in recreational facilities. BMC Public Health 2011;11:423–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Olstad DL, Raine KD, McCargar, LJ. Adopting and implementing nutrition guidelines in recreational facilities: Public and private sector roles. A multiple case study. BMC Public Health 2012;12(1):376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Naylor PJ, Wekken SV, Trill D, Kirbyson A. Facilitating healthier food environments in public recreation facilities: Results of a pilot project in British Columbia, Canada. J Park & Recreation Admin 2010;28(4):37–58.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Thomas H, Irwin J. Food choices in recreation facilities: Operators’ and patrons’ perspectives. Can J Diet Pract Res 2010;71(4):180–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Nelson TF, Stovitz SD, Thomas M, Lavoi NM, Bauer KW, Neumark-Sztainer D. Do youth sports prevent pediatric obesity? A systematic review and commentary. Current Sports Med Rep 2011;10(6):360–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    van der Horst K, Oenema A, Ferreira I, Wendel-Vos W, Giskes K, van Lenthe F, et al. A systematic review of environmental correlates of obesity-related dietary behaviors in youth. Health Educ Res 2007;22(2):203–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Pearson N, Biddle SJ, Gorely T. Family correlates of fruit and vegetable consumption in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Public Health Nutr 2009;12(2):267–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Fox MK, Dodd AH, Wilson A, Gleason, PM. Association between school food environment and practices and body mass index of US public school children. J Am Dietetic Assoc 2009;109(2 Suppl):S108–S117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Andrews, RL. Healthy Eating in Recreation & Sport Settings–Provincial & Territorial Scan Summary. Halifax, NS: Capital District Health Authority, 2011. Available at: http://www.recreationns.ns.ca/wp-content/uploadhere/2012/05/HealthyEatingInRecSportScanSummaryFINALMay20111.pdf (Accessed March 1, 2013).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Alberta Health and Wellness. The Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Health and Wellness, 2010. Available at: http://www.healthyalberta.com/HealthyEating/ANGCY.htm (Accessed August 14, 2012).Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Olstad DL, Raine KD, McCargar, LJ. Adopting and implementing nutrition guidelines in recreational facilities: Tensions between public health and corporate profitability. Public Health Nutr 2012;1–9.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Vander Wekken S, Sorensen S, Meldrum J, Naylor, PJ. Exploring industry perspectives on implementation of a provincial policy for food and beverage sales in publicly funded recreation facilities. Health Policy 2012;104(3):279–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Olstad DL, Lieffers JR, Raine KD, McCargar, LJ. Implementing the Alberta nutrition guidelines for children and youth in a recreational facility. Can J Diet Pract Res 2011;72(4):e212–e220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Economos CD, Folta SC, Goldberg J, Hudson D, Collins J, Baker Z, et al. A community-based restaurant initiative to increase availability of healthy menu options in Somerville, Massachusetts: Shape Up Somerville. Prev Chronic Dis 2009;6(3):A102.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sharma LL, Teret SP, Brownell, KD. The food industry and self-regulation: Standards to promote success and to avoid public health failures. Am J Public Health 2010;100(2):240–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Foster GD, Sherman S, Borradaile KE, Grundy KM, Vander Veur SS, Nachmani J, et al. A policy-based school intervention to prevent overweight and obesity. Pediatrics 2008;121(4):e794–e802.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Angell SY, Cobb LK, Curtis CJ, Konty KJ, Silver, LD. Change in trans fatty acid content of fast-food purchases associated with New York City’s restaurant regulation: A pre-post study. Ann Intern Med 2012;157(2):81–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Bruemmer B, Krieger J, Saelens BE, Chan N. Energy, saturated fat, and sodium were lower in entrees at chain restaurants at 18 months compared with 6 months following the implementation of mandatory menu labeling regulation in King County, Washington. J Acad Nutr Diet 2012;112(8):1169–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    French, SA. Pricing effects on food choices. J Nutr 2003;133(3):841S–843S.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Alberta Institute for Human NutritionUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Centre for Health Promotion Studies, School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

Personalised recommendations