Thursday, November 15, 2012

What's In the Average Vending Machine Snack?

Friends in Edmonton recently published a paper on the tug of war between health concerns and sales concerns when it comes to community centre food sales.

While the paper's an important read for folks trying to encourage local community centres' health reforms, something stuck out for me. It was a chart that highlighted the average calories/sugar in vending machine snacks.

So if it's your practice, or your kid's practice, to have a drink and a snack from vending machines daily, according to the paper on average, the drink and snack together will contain 433 calories (a Quarterpounder worth) and an astonishing 60g of sugar (15 teaspoons!).

The worse news?

Even when the vendors fully adhered to Alberta's Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth, grab a drink and a snack and you or your child will be grabbing on average 342 calories with 41g of sugar (10 teaspoons!).

My vote?

Get rid of the frickin' vending machines! How hard is it for parents or people to pack snacks and do we really need to be making money on the backs of our children's health?

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  1. Hmm, get rid of the vending machines, honestly, i didn't like that idea so much at first, it's still "fun" for my kids to get a treat out of the machine (no it's not daily). It is also really convenient too BUT the more i thought about it, the more i agree with getting rid of them altogether. Even substituting the calorie dense, nutrient poor snacks with healthier options isn't a lot better, after all it is one more of many messages to eat. As a society we are constantly being "messaged" through advertizing to eat. I rarely forget to eat, and don't have that many clients who need reminders to eat.

    I say, good riddance to vending machines in community and recreation centres.

  2. Over 30 years ago I worked in a company that had vending machines with regular food in them...sandwiches, cut raw vegetables, fruit, nuts. These machines had to be serviced daily to keep supplies fresh, but it is one approach.

  3. Anonymous8:34 pm

    University of Guelph used to have healthy vending machines as well. I really appreciated being able to grab an apple, banana, yoghurt, or carrot sticks if I was unexpectedly delayed at work and didn't get a chance to get home for dinner before class. I haven't seen a healthy vending machine choice in a while though.

    I understand that the majority of vending machines in North America are all run by only a couple of companies -- it would be interesting to see who owns these vending machine companies and therefore controls what is put in them...

  4. Anonymous10:54 am

    Getting rid of vending machines is a brilliant idea as it might begin to deconstruct the fairly new cultural idea that food *should* be available everywhere. There is a time and place for food, and no shortage of food vendors is most cities. Do we really also need food to be instantly available from machines stationed at every corner of every building?

  5. Anonymous5:03 pm

    What happened to the milk vending machines? The closest thing I have seen lately are the machines where the syrupy, chocolate milk drinks (that are essentially pop) are available.

    I remember being able to buy a small carton of skim or 2% milk from a vending machine, but I haven't seen one in a while. It seems now that the only choices are pop and pseudo-juice, or if you are really lucky water at an exorbitant price.