Sport and recreation facilities are designed to promote health and wellbeing. They are frequented by large numbers of people, including children. Despite this, the ready availability of unhealthy foods and drinks in many sport and recreation facilities does not model or support healthy diets.
While many Australian jurisdictions provide healthy food and drink guidelines for sport and recreation facilities, there is a lack of monitoring data to show what foods are actually available and promoted in these centres.
Here we present two case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of interventions to improve the healthiness of food and drinks offered in sport and recreation facilities.
Case Study 1: VicHealth: Water In Sport initiative
In January 2018, VicHealth provided funding to eight local government areas (LGAs) to implement the Water in Sport (WIS) initiative. The initiative aimed to increase the promotion of water and reduce the supply of sugary drinks in community sports and recreation facilities, and strengthen council policies and practices to enable longer-term improvements to the healthiness of food environments.
The intervention involved a range of actions to reduce customer purchases of sugary drinks and make water the drink of choice. These actions involved either:
- Limiting display of unhealthy (‘red’) drinks to less than 20% of display space, or
- Removing unhealthy (‘red’) drinks from display altogether whilst increasing display of healthier (‘green’) drinks to greater than 50% of display space.
Source: VicHealth: Water In Sport Overall results from 8 local government areas
For more information:
Riesenberg D, Blake, MR, Boelsen‐Robinson T, Peeters A, & Cameron AJ (2020). Policies influencing the provision of healthy food and drinks in local government‐owned sport and recreation facilities in Victoria, Australia. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 44(3), 240-244.
Case Study 2: YMCA Soft-Drink Free Policy
For more information:
Boelsen‐Robinson T, Chung A, Khalil M, Wong E, Kurzeme A, & Peeters, A. (2017). Examining the nutritional quality of food and beverage consumed at Melbourne aquatic and recreation centres. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, 41(2), 184-186.