When you have an event purely dedicated to creating healthy food choices at sporting organisations, it’s an easy sell to get people through the door.
Fair to say most of us (if not all of us) are looking to live healthier lives and when it comes to providing healthy food options in canteens at local netball courts and footy ovals, it’s an issue we all need to address.
This notion was highlighted at VicHealth’s Healthy Choices in Sport Forum at MSAC today. A room full of sport administrators looking to find ways to integrate healthy food choices at their sporting organisations.
VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter provided history of VicHealth’s journey to support the healthy choice being the easy choice in sporting environments, highlighting the compelling support from the Victorian community,
"We know that people want healthier options available".
It was an inspiring morning as we heard case studies showcasing stories from sporting communities who rolled out healthy food and drink approaches such as ‘nudges’ to encourage people to make healthy choices.
There was a strong emphasis however, on clubs understanding the differences between the food options they provide. This was easily described in the "Traffic Light" system whereby RED, AMBER or GREEN reflect how nutritious the foods are.
Food and drinks in the green category are the healthiest and should be encouraged as the best choice through the way they are displayed, priced and promoted. Those in the red category are the least healthy and therefore should have limited display.
Matthew Nicholson, Director - Centre for Sport and Social Impact at LaTrobe University said the most successful nudge implemented across the VicHealth funded programs was Red Drinks off Display and recommended placing the red drinks in the bottom of single fridges or on one side of double door fridges and covering them with a poster or decal.
Steve Teakel from AFL Victoria (see picture below) shared his insights on how junior level AFL integrated Healthy Choices Coach Training by adopting the ‘I am a Healthy Choices Coach’ initiative’.
From the case study, Caulfield Bears U10 Polars coach Rowan Brittain has seen the impact of the education of the coaches and said,
“Rather than sharing a bag of snakes with the kids, the players have a piece of fruit and are continuing to do so regularly after their games for the remainder of the year”.
Morning tea was provided and a selection of healthy choices was a necessity and gave people the opportunity to share their practices and how they too can provide healthier choices.
Vicsport CEO Steven Potts joined the panel alongside AFL Victoria's Steve Teakel and Netball Victoria's Stacey O’Neill discussed ways to make your sport achieve and sustain Impact. Steven Potts stated,
"For the first time we have data that you can go to your club and say this IS sustainable".
A second panel of Belinda Conna - Acting Manager Active Living, Andrew Sloane Program Manager - South West Sport, and Matthew Nicholson discussed how to drive positive change by identifying key influences and bringing them on board, and the need for clear communication among staff and volunteers of the process of implementing nudges.
To finish, Rayoni Nelson, Manager - Physical Activity, Sport and Healthy Eating at VicHealth revealed the resources are available to support making healthy choices the easy choices in sporting environments, including the new Healthy & Welcoming Sport section on the Vicsport website.
For more information on the Legacy project and resources follow the link https://vicsport.com.au/healthy-welcoming-sport
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