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Adolescent perspectives of the recreational ice hockey food environment and influences on eating behaviour revealed through photovoice

  • M Susan Caswell (a1) and Rhona M Hanning (a1)

Unhealthy dietary behaviours are prevalent among adolescents. This might relate, in part, to obesogenic environments, including recreation food facilities. The REFRESH Study (Recreation Environment and Food Research: Experiences from Hockey) aimed to explore, from the perspectives of adolescent ice hockey players and parents, broad social and physical environmental influences on adolescent food behaviours associated with hockey participation.


Players used photovoice to describe their food experiences in relation to ice hockey. The approach included photos, individual interviews and focus groups. Exemplar photographs were exhibited for stakeholders, including five parents who were interviewed. Interview and focus group transcripts were thematically analysed.


Recreational ice hockey environment, Ontario, Canada, 2015–16.


Ice hockey players (n 24) aged 11–15 years recruited from five leagues.


Dominant influences among players included: their perceived importance of nutrients (e.g. protein) or foods (e.g. chocolate milk) for performance and recovery; marketing and branding (e.g. the pro-hockey aura of Tim Horton’s®, Canada’s largest quick-service restaurant); social aspects of tournaments and team meals; and moral values around ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ food choices. Both players and parents perceived recreational facility food options as unhealthy and identified that travel and time constraints contributed to less healthy choices.


Results indicate recreation facilities are only one of a range of environments that influence eating behaviours of adolescent ice hockey players. Players’ susceptibility to advertising/brand promotion and the value of healthy food choices for performance are findings that can inform policy and interventions to support healthy environments and behaviours.

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