Publically funded recreation facilities: obesogenic environments for children and families?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 May;7(5):2208-21. doi: 10.3390/ijerph7052208. Epub 2010 May 4.


Increasing healthy food options in public venues, including recreational facilities, is a health priority. The purpose of this study was to describe the public recreation food environment in British Columbia, Canada using a sequential explanatory mixed methods design. Facility audits assessed policy, programs, vending, concessions, fundraising, staff meetings and events. Focus groups addressed context and issues related to action. Eighty-eighty percent of facilities had no policy governing food sold or provided for children/youth programs. Sixty-eight percent of vending snacks were chocolate bars and chips while 57% of beverages were sugar sweetened. User group fundraisers held at the recreation facilities also sold 'unhealthy' foods. Forty-two percent of recreation facilities reported providing user-pay programs that educated the public about healthy eating. Contracts, economics, lack of resources and knowledge and motivation of staff and patrons were barriers to change. Recreation food environments were obesogenic but stakeholders were interested in change. Technical support, resources and education are needed.

Keywords: food environment; healthy eating; nutrition policy; public recreation facilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • British Columbia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Family*
  • Financing, Government*
  • Focus Groups
  • Food*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Recreation*