Examining the nutritional quality of food and beverage consumed at Melbourne aquatic and recreation centres

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Abstract

Objective:

Examine the nutritional quality of food and beverages consumed across a sample of community aquatic and recreation centres in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia.

Methods:

Interviewer-administered surveys of randomly selected patrons attending four aquatic and recreation centres were conducted to ascertain food and beverage items consumed over two data collection periods (May–June 2014, January–February 2015). We selected centres in and around metropolitan Melbourne with a sit-down cafeteria and children's swimming classes. We classified items by government nutrient profiling guidelines; ‘green’ (best choice), ‘amber’ (choose carefully) or ‘red’ (limit).

Results:

A total of 2,326 surveys were conducted (response rate 63%). Thirty-five per cent of surveyed patrons consumed food or beverages while at the centre; 54% of patrons purchased from the café and 61% brought items to the centre. More than half the food consumed from the café was ‘red’, increasing to 92% for children. One in five children visiting the centre consumed a ‘red’ item bought from the centre café.

Conclusions:

The nutritional quality of food and beverages consumed at recreation centres was generally poor, with the on-site cafés providing the majority of discretionary items consumed.

Implications for public health:

Community aquatic and recreation centres provide an opportunity to promote healthy eating by increasing the provision of healthy options and limiting discretionary food and drink items.

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