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It’s time for NB Recreation Facilities to up their food and beverage game

A report released today by the New Brunswick Healthy Eating in Recreation Settings Working Group revealed that the majority of foods and beverages being sold in recreation facilities are unhealthy.

A 2017 provincial scan included audits of the food and beverage choices available at 46 recreation facilities in 28 New Brunswick communities.

Findings revealed that 86 per cent of the food service venues audited sold candy and every facility audited sold sugar-sweetened beverages. In Canada, youth are the biggest consumers of sugary drinks, which are the single largest contributor of sugar in the diet. These beverages and excess sugar consumption have been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, dental caries and obesity. In New Brunswick, 36% of our children and 28% of our youth are either overweight or obese.

Additionally, consumption of energy drinks by youth is a public health concern and their availability in the vending machines of 1 in 5 of the facilities that were audited is particularly troubling.

The majority of the food service venues (69%) had advertisements that promoted unhealthy foods and beverages. Promotion of these foods in recreation facilities targets children and youth and influences their choices.

"We all know and understand that healthy food is fuel for the young athletes in our lives. For some families, recreation facilities are like a second home; they spend so much of their time there. Now we need to go further than raising awareness of food choices in sports and cultural facilities,” says Dr. Linda Dalpe of Caraquet, “It is important that the right choice, the one that is good for us, becomes the easy choice. This report reinforces the need to create health-promoting environments because of the massive impact our environment has on the choices we make every day."

New Brunswick's Healthy Eating in Recreation Settings Working Group was established in 2016 and aims to support the movement towards healthy eating in recreation settings through communication, research and resource development. Members include Recreation New Brunswick, Diabetes Canada, the Healthy Eating Physical Activity Coalition, Live Well Bien Vivre, New Brunswick Medical Society, New Brunswick Dental Society, Sport New Brunswick, Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network.

“Healthy and vibrant communities require settings that support both physical activity and healthy eating,” says Tara Werner, Manager of Community Health Promotion at Diabetes Canada and member of the Healthy Eating in Recreation Settings Working Group, “Recreation settings are the cornerstones of many of our communities, making them well-positioned to promote both of these positive behaviours and become healthy environments for the children, families, adults and seniors who use them.”

Amidst these unfavourable trends were some positive findings as well. Water was the most common beverage for sale in recreation facilities and over half these settings had their healthy food and beverage options for sale at a price comparable to less healthy options.  

The Healthy Eating in Recreation Settings Working Group aims to build capacity for healthy eating in recreation settings across New Brunswick.

Full report is available here.

Media Contacts: Michelle DeCourcey, Recreation New Brunswick: 506.459.1929 ext. 2 

*This news release was originally posted by Recreation New Brunswick.