The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has attacked local government for not doing enough to remove junk food from health centers, sports clubs and swimming pools.
In a study of council run health clubs and sports centers in the UK many were found to have vending machines full of chocolate, chips, candy and soda drinks; while fries, chicken nuggets, sausages and hamburgers were on sale in the canteens.
The main findings of the study are that:
- Vending machines dominate venues, stocking snacks that can’t be advertised on children’s TV or sold in school vending machines.
- Junk food meal deals rule children’s menus.
- There’s little nutritional information to help kids and parents understand what the healthiest option is.
The BHF highlighted that the average snack bar contains 203 calories, and a child would have to swim for 88 minutes to burn this energy off. Adults are told that they should not indulge in junk food after exercising, but impressionable children are still exposed to it in health clubs. When children see food on display in a sports center many will assume that it is healthy and OK to eat. They do not consider that the sports center uses the vending machines just to make more money.
The government has banned the sale of junk food in schools, however children are still being exposed to high fat, high salt and high sugar snacks in the very place that should be getting them fit and healthy.
“It’s fantastic that these kids are getting fit and having fun at the same time but this is being undermined by venues peddling junk food at them. Councils and leisure providers need to rigorously reconsider the food options they are providing and make it easier for parents and children to make healthier choices.” Chief Executive of the BHF Peter Hollins
The British Heart Foundation is now campaigning that vending machines in public places should be stocked with only healthy options.
For more information visit the British Heart Foundation website.
Photo by Dan Taylor