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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2019 Nov 18:1-8. doi: 10.3148/cjdpr-2019-031. [Epub ahead of print]

The Healthfulness of Eateries at the University of Waterloo: A Comparison across 2 Time Points.

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School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.
Institute for Better Health, Trillium Health Partners, Mississauga, ON.
School of Planning, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to assess the healthfulness of a sample of campus eateries at 2 time points, 2 years apart. Methods: Five eateries at the University of Waterloo were audited using the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey adapted for university campuses (NEMS-UC) in 2015 and late 2017-early 2018. Based on the availability of healthy options and facilitators of and barriers to healthy eating, possible NEMS-UC scores ranged from -5 to 23 points. Results: Scores were low, ranging from 7 to 14 (mean = 10.8, SD = 2.59) points in 2015 and 7 to 13 (mean = 9.6, SD = 2.19) points in 2017-2018. For all eateries except 1 residence cafeteria, scores at time 2 were the same or lower than scores at time 1. All venues carried whole fruit and vegetable options and lower-fat milks, and most offered whole-wheat options. However, healthier items were often located in low-traffic areas, priced higher than less healthy options, and sometimes limited to prepackaged items. Misleading health messaging was also evident. Conclusions: Increased availability, accessibility, and visibility of healthy offerings is needed to enhance campus food environments and support healthy eating patterns, while barriers such as contradictory messaging should be minimized.


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