The food initiatives currently being trialled at leisure venues (see HCM Sept 16, p68) demonstrate a healthy appetite among the fitness sector to deliver integrated wellbeing solutions for members. Now the challenge is to ensure evidence-led best practice around nutrition can be adopted by leisure facilities nationwide.
Over the coming months, ukactive will be working with local authority leisure operators across its membership base, along with food vendors and the Local Government Association, to explore how we can help sport and leisure venues to create healthier options.
Our ‘Let’s Get Moving’ intervention showed that the sector can benefit hugely from working with GPs around exercise referral. If the sector can become a standard-bearer for all aspects of wellness – including exercise, diet and mindfulness – substantial opportunities will open up for closer collaboration with the health service.
While it’s important to maintain streams of secondary income and offer choice for consumers, vending machines offering unhealthy snacks and drinks are a big cause for concern among health professionals. We can allay these fears by looking at alternative snacks and products, thereby providing a healthy environment for both children and adults.
The emergence of leisure operators as true frontline health delivery partners would greatly ease the burden on stretched NHS budgets. Meanwhile, regular referrals from GPs would drive participation from communities not routinely reached by the leisure industry. It’s a clear win-win, but there is still much to be done. In terms of healthier nutrition in clubs, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.