Food choices in recreation facilities: operators' and patrons' perspectives

Can J Diet Pract Res. Winter 2010;71(4):180-5. doi: 10.3148/71.4.2010.180.


Purpose: Recreation facilities (RFs) provide physical activity environments; however, unhealthy food choices are abundant there. This needs assessment was conducted to determine patrons' satisfaction with food and purchasing preferences while at RFs, reasons for purchasing certain foods, and inclination for other options. Also assessed were RF operators' receptiveness to and perspectives on the feasibility of providing healthy foods.

Methods: A previously developed and piloted paper-and-pencil survey was administered to a cross-section of 269 adult patrons of local RFs. Seven operators participated in a previously developed researcher-administered survey.

Results: Among patrons, 52.2% were satisfied with RF food choices, although 59.2% and 68.8% reported not purchasing any RF food or beverages from the snack bar or vending machines, respectively. Patrons who were dissatisfied and did not purchase food and beverages noted the abundance of unhealthy choices, poor food quality and variety, and expense as reasons. All operators were interested in and receptive to healthy food options at their RFs, but expressed concerns about poor sales of existing healthier options. All operators indicated the importance of knowing what patrons would purchase.

Conclusions: The RF operators and most patrons were interested in and receptive to healthier food options at RFs. Developing, implementing, and evaluating a pilot RF healthy-food intervention are next steps.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Female
  • Food Preferences*
  • Food Services*
  • Food* / economics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recreation*