Healthy Stadia: an insight from policy to practice


This article was originally published on Connect Sport, found here.

Public health is a major priority for the governments of developed and developing nations. In a bid to develop methods to engage with populations of people rather than individuals, a settings-based approach to promoting public health has been applied. One such approach has been around sport clubs and their stadia under the banner of ‘healthy stadia’. This article presents a collection of articles edited by Dr Daniel Parnell (Manchester Metropolitan University), Dr Kathryn Curran (Leeds Beckett University) and Dr Matthew Philpott (European Healthy Stadia Network CiC) in the peer-reviewed journal Sport in Society, titled ‘Healthy Stadia: an insight from policy to practice’.

The healthy stadia initiatives were developed in the mid 2000s and they emphasised the potential of health promotion in sports venues, across three themes: (i) healthier stadium environments for fans and non-match day visitors (eg smoke-free environments); (ii) healthier club workforces (eg bike to work schemes); and (iii) healthier populations in local communities (eg child obesity interventions). The working definition of a healthy stadium is:

“those which promote the health of visitors, fans, players, employees and the surrounding community … places where people can go to have a positive healthy experience playing or watching sport.”

At present there is a limited amount of research surrounding the healthy stadia agenda, which you can read more about in the special collection’s editorial. There is an abundance of applied activity, under the support of the European Healthy Stadia Network. The role of the network is to capture good practice and to disseminate these case studies across its membership which comprises decision-makers within governing bodies of sport. The applied impact of policy and practice of healthy stadia is impressive, most notably the achievement of implementing tobacco controlpolicies at sports stadia. Indeed, the forthcoming European Football Championships in 2016 will be tobacco-free thanks to collaborative work between the Healthy Stadia Network, the World Heart Federation and UEFA.

As a result of the impressive applied work, accompanied by a lack of peer-reviewed research, the editors [Parnell, Curran and Philpott] developed a special collection proposal. Now published, the collection includes applied perspectives; articles which consider sport stadia for public health promotion; research on the outcomes of physical activity and health promotion programmes in football clubs; the role of Physical Education and the implication of current sport policy; contributions on the lessons learned from sport, PA and health promotion interventions, and findings from an older men’s community-based, football-led weight management intervention.

A list of the contributions is detailed below and we would encourage readers to explore the collection and articles which offer practical implications, which can assist those who commission, manage or deliver physical activity and public health-related interventions through amateur and professional sports clubs. The link to the latest articles on the journal website is here, where you will find these articles appearing. If you would like to access the articles please contact Dr Dan Parnell on email or the corresponding authors directly.

– Editorial: Healthy Stadia: An insight from policy to practice. Daniel Parnell, Kathryn Curran, Matthew Philpott.

– An insight from those involved in Healthy Stadia. Daniel Cade, Kathryn Curran, Andy Fuller, Jenny Hacker, Clive Knight, Simon Lansley, Daniel Parnell, Matthew Philpott.

– Who ate all the pies? The importance of food in the Australian sporting experience. Keith D. Parry, Timothy Hall, Alastair Baxter.

– Sport Heritage and the Healthy Stadia agenda: An overview. Gregory Ramshaw.

– An evaluation of opportunistic health checks at cricket matches: The Boundaries for Life initiative. Chet Trivedy, Ivo Vlaev, Russell Seymour, Matthew Philpott.

– Health promotion orientation of GAA sports clubs in Ireland. Aoife Lane, Niamh Murphy, Alex Donohoe & Colin Regan.

– The community impact of football pitches: A case study of Maidstone United FC. Anthony May, Daniel Parnell.

– Improving the physical and mental wellbeing of typically hard-to-reach men: an investigation of the impact of the Active Rovers project. Colin J. Lewis, Matthew J. Reeves, Simon J. Roberts.

– Success of a sports-club led community X-PERT Diabetes Education. Programme Angela Morgan, Dee Drew, Angela Clifford, Katarine Hull.

– Tackling mental health: the role of professional football clubs. Kathryn Curran, Simon Rosenbaum, Daniel Parnell, Brendon Stubbs, Andy Pringle, Jackie Hargreaves.

– Sport Policy and English primary Physical Education: The role of professional football clubs in outsourcing. Daniel Parnell, Ed Cope, Richard Bailey, Paul Widdop.

– ‘It brings the lads together’: A critical exploration of older men’s experiences of a weight management programme delivered through a Healthy Stadia project. Lorena Lozano-Sufrategui, Andy Pringle, David Carless, Jim McKenna.

– Lessons from the field for working in Healthy Stadia: Physical activity practitioners reflect on ‘sport’. Jim McKenna, Thomas Quarmby, Nicky Kime, Daniel Parnell, Stephen Zwolinsky.

Editorial to cite:

Parnell, D., Curran, K. and Philpott, M. (2016) Healthy stadia: an insight from policy to practice.Sport in Society, DOI:10.1080/17430437.2016.1173914 Available online here.

Dr Dan Parnell is an active researcher and senior lecturer in Business Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests cover the sport and leisure sectors within the UK and he works globally on a number of projects, in particular the social role of sport. Contact or follow @parnell_daniel on Twitter or access his research here.

Dr Kathryn Curran is a Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health at Leeds Beckett University. Kathryn’s research focuses on investigating the effectiveness of community physical activity and health interventions primarily with socially disadvantaged groups. or follow @kathryn_curran on Twitter.

Dr Matthew Philpott is Executive Director of European Healthy Stadia Network which he helped to set up as a social enterprise in 2012. He is responsible for the overall operations and growth of Healthy Stadia, including the co-ordination of numerous EU-funded sport projects and health interventions for UEFA. Contact: or follow @healthystadia

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