Assessing and Catalyzing Adoption and Implementation of the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth in Recreational Sports Settings

  • Author / Creator
    Olstad, Dana Lee
  • Although the mandate of recreational sports settings is to enhance well-being, many have unhealthy food environments that may paradoxically increase obesity risk. The Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth (ANGCY) are government-initiated, voluntary guidelines intended to facilitate children’s access to healthy food and beverage choices in recreational facilities. The purpose of these studies was to investigate: 1) Awareness, adoption and implementation of the ANGCY, 2) Factors that influenced uptake of the ANGCY and the nature of the food environment within 3 cases: an adopter, a semi-adopter and a non-adopter of the ANGCY, and 3) Practical strategies to support healthy food purchases by patrons in recreational sports settings. Findings from a provincial survey (n=151 recreational facilities) showed that one-half of facilities had heard of the ANGCY and only 6% had implemented them 1 year following their release. A multiple case study revealed that managers were nutritional gate-keepers of recreational facility food environments, their nutrition-related knowledge, beliefs and perceptions shaped their adoption and implementation of the ANGCY. Intersectoral linkages with schools and health promoting partnerships with industry were also important for adoption and implementation to occur. Financial constraints emerged as a strong and consistent barrier to ANGCY uptake. Managers from industry who adopted the ANGCY took a long-term view of profitability and were willing to take small risks, sacrificing short-term profitability to remain on the leading edge of market trends. An intervention tested the impact of increased availability of healthy items, 2 nudges and an economic incentive on purchase of healthy items by patrons at an outdoor community pool. Food availability proved to be an independent environmental determinant of food purchasing behaviors in this context, while mixed evidence was found for the efficacy of nudging. Price reductions appeared ineffectual in this setting. Overall, findings suggest ANGCY uptake may continue to falter under the current voluntary approach, as the environmental supports for voluntary action are poor and managers fear revenue loss. Multiple strategies will be needed to optimize food selection in recreational sports settings, however increasing the availability of healthy foods offers significant potential to improve patrons’ food purchasing behaviors.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.