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Public Health Nutr. 2013 May;16(5):815-23. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012004818. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

Adopting and implementing nutrition guidelines in recreational facilities: tensions between public health and corporate profitability.

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Alberta Institute for Human Nutrition, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1.



Little is known about how public entities can partner with industry to achieve public health goals. We investigated industry's perspective of factors that influenced their adoption and implementation of voluntary, government-issued nutrition guidelines (Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth, ANGCY) in recreational facilities.


In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted. Data were analysed using directed content analysis.


Food services in recreational facilities.


Seven managers from industry participated; five from companies that had adopted and implemented the ANGCY (adopters) in recreational facilities and two from companies that had not (non-adopters).


Industry views nutrition guidelines through the lens of profitability. Non-adopters were unwilling to implement the ANGCY for fear of sacrificing short-term profitability, whereas adopters adhered to them in an attempt to position themselves for long-term profitability. Adopters faced barriers including few resources, no training, complex guidelines, low availability of and demand for ANGCY-compliant products, competitive pressures and substantial declines in revenue. Managers believed widespread voluntary adoption of the ANGCY was unlikely without government incentives and/or a mandate, as the environmental context for voluntary action was poor. All managers supported government-mandated implementation of the ANGCY to level the playing field upon which companies compete.


Public-private partnerships in recreational facilities can embrace public health goals in the short term, provided industry perceives potential for long-term financial gain. Widespread uptake of voluntary nutrition guidelines in this setting is unlikely, however, as market mechanisms do not encourage industry to sell and promote healthier options. Government legislation may therefore be warranted.

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