Kids offered junk food at sports centres

IPSWICH: Chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks - hardly the sort of food which children should be encouraged to eat after exercise.

IPSWICH: Chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks - hardly the sort of food which children should be encouraged to eat after exercise.

But a new report has found that leisure centres are still selling junk snacks to youngsters despite them being off the menu at schools.

Bosses at Ipswich Borough Council today moved to encourage healthy eating habits although the authority accepted it sold unhealthy food at its sports centres.

A study has revealed that vending machines in entertainment complexes such as bowling alleys and gyms are filled with snacks containing high levels of fat, sugar and salt.

Children's menus in places where children exercise are also dominated by food like burgers, sausages and fizzy drinks, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said.

The Food Commission compiled the study, called A Fit Choice, following visits to 35 leisure venues in and around London.

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It now wants councils and private venues to ensure healthy food options are available and to bring in stricter controls on vending machines.

Ipswich Borough Council, which was not criticised directly in the study, admitted it did stock confectionary at its sports facilities, which include Crown Pools, Gainsborough Sports Centre and Whitton Sports Centre.

However, a spokesman said these were among a wide range of refreshments.

The spokesman added: “We have to provide choice and would always encourage moderation in eating habits.

“In fact, we can report that sales of our fizzy drinks are declining, so we have stocked more sports drinks.”

The BHF warned that a lack of controls on the industry means efforts to tackle obesity are being undermined as children face a “barrage of unhealthy products”.

Peter Hollins, chief executive of the BHF, said: “The average calorie content of the 21 vending machine snacks found most frequently was 203 calories. A seven-year-old would need to do a staggering 88 minutes of swimming to use that up.”

Is there too much junk food at leisure centres in Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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