Americans Want Healthier Food and Drink Options, Survey Finds

(November 3, 2016)

Public venues encouraged to add healthy food and drinks at vending machines and concession stands

Ashburn, Va. (November 3, 2016) — The benefits of eating a well-balanced diet are widely known, however, eating healthy on-the-go is sometimes a challenge. A recent poll conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a network of more than 52,000 park and recreation professionals and advocates, found that the majority of Americans want healthier food and drink options in public spaces — especially at vending machines and concession stands.    

The majority (67 percent) of Americans ages 18+ polled agree it’s important that vending machines and concession stands in public spaces include healthy food and drink options. That number is even higher among millennials (74 percent) and Gen Xers (70 percent) compared to Baby Boomers (61 percent). In addition, parents (73 percent) feel much stronger than non-parents (64 percent) about having healthy food and drink options in public spaces.     

“While the majority of Americans are becoming more health conscious, there is still a need to educate people, especially children, about the importance of eating healthy,” said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA President and CEO. “Not only will providing healthy food and drink options in public spaces encourage better eating, it will help in the fight against obesity and other related health problems.” 

Park and recreation agencies are at the frontline helping combat childhood obesity. More than 1,200 park and recreation sites have pledged to implement the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards as part of NRPA’s Commit to Health campaign. Now, approximately 220,000 children have improved access to healthy foods and increased opportunities for physical activity.

Through NRPA’s Commit to Health: Foods of the Month program, park and recreation agencies are encouraging communities to eat healthy and get moving. The program includes a Foods of the Month calendar; Foods of the Month posters; a newsletter with tips and healthy recipes; and being active tips. All of the materials are free and available for download here.

This poll is part of NRPA’s Park Pulse, a continuing series of monthly surveys that gauge the public’s opinion on topics relating to parks and recreation. To explore previous Park Pulse survey results, visit

To view the interactive charts with the survey results, click here.

To view the full-size infographic, click here.

To learn more about NRPA, visit


About The National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 52,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit For digital access to NRPA’s flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit