The food environment in leisure centres and health clubs: how appropriate is it for children?

Magdalena Nowak (Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London, UK)
Yvonne Jeanes (Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London, UK)
Sue Reeves (Department of Life Sciences, Roehampton University, London, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Publication date: 5 September 2012



Leisure centres and health clubs are ideal places for promoting healthy lifestyle. They promote physical exercise and many activities for children, such as swimming, soft play areas, crèche, and team sports. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the food environment for children in leisure centres and health clubs in London.


In total, 67 venues were visited. All food and drink options were recorded and the proportion of “healthy” options was calculated according to the School Food Trust criteria and Nutrient Profiling Model.


In total, 96 per cent of the venues had vending machines and 51 per cent had onsite restaurants/cafés. According to The School Food Trust criteria, only 13 per cent of vending machine drinks, 77.2 per cent of meals, and 24 per cent of snacks would be allowed in school canteens.

Research limitations/implications

The study revealed that a low proportion of healthy foods and drinks were offered to children in Leisure centres in London. However, the survey was only extended to venues in the capital.

Practical implications

The results of the study suggest that new recommendations such as the Healthy Food Code of Good Practice, omitted leisure centres. The findings presented here could provide scientific evidence for campaigns and interventions aimed at improving the quality and the appropriateness of foods and drinks offered to children.


The paper shows that health campaigns and legislation should target leisure centres and health clubs, in order to improve the food and drinks facilities and promote healthy eating, particularly in light of the upcoming Olympic Games in London 2012.



Nowak, M., Jeanes, Y. and Reeves, S. (2012), "The food environment in leisure centres and health clubs: how appropriate is it for children?", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 42 No. 5, pp. 307-314.

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