I Can’t Afford to Eat From A Vending Machiene

Last semester, I had an evening class rightttt around dinner time. Usually I pack some snacks with me, but one day I had eaten all of my snacks and I was starving. So I managed to find .55cents in my backpack and I sunk out of class to grab a snack from the vending machine.


I guess it has been a while since I have eaten from a vending machine, but prices have gone wayyyy up! You can’t get anything for .55 cents!

Ironically my 10 page term paper for that very same class ended up being about a proposed rule to include nutritional information on all vending machines.  Nutrition plays a major role in the body and mind’s ability to recover healthfully and safely from addiction.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register of April 6, 2011 to establish requirements for nutrition labeling of certain food items sold in certain vending machines. This will require that vending machine operators, who own or operate 20 or more machines, disclose calories for certain food items (Kaiser ). The availability of nutritional information for vending machine food items will allow for customers to make healthy and informed choices.

Data shows that vending machines contain food that is higher in calories (Sullivan). Additionally, in The United States there is 1 vending machine for every 40 adults in the United States. A contributing factor into the increase in overweight individuals has to do with the consumption of food eaten and purchased away from home (Thompson). Food that is purchased away from home contains higher energy content and has a greater portion size. (Nestle). Food that is purchased away from home, such as from vending machines, allows for individuals to consume more than the recommended amount of energy content. Since no previous regulation mandated nutrition labeling for food sold in vending machines the rule was proposed by the FDA. As part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2012, the FDA requires that all food items sold from vending machines contain caloric information. According to The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA), requires nutrition information on food products for human consumption. The nutrition label must include the following information: total calories, total calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate, dietary fiber, sugars, protein and certain vitamins and minerals (Food). Since food purchased from vending machines was not immediately consumed it was considered to be exempt under the NLEA guidelines. In March of 2012 the Affordable Care Act specified that a vending machine operator of 20 or more vending machines must have a sign near the vending machine or selection buttons with caloric information of food items.

The relationship between food intake and obesity is a varied relationship; however with nutritional information it is expected that (1) an increased awareness in nutritional information will lead to a consumption of food with fewer calories. (2) an increase in demand for food items with fewer calories which will inspire vending machine operators to reduce unhealthy food options and increase healthy options. This proposed rule will not eliminate all excess caloric intake, however it will bring about awareness to the food that is consumed outside of home.

I also included all of the citations from my paper so you can look up more information if you are interested!

Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, McDowell MA, Tabak CJ, Flegal KM. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the united states, 1999-2004. JAMA. 2006;295(13):1549-1555.

Sullivan, P.W., V. Ghusheyan, and R.H. Ben-Joseph. “The Effect of Obesity and

Cardiometabolic Risk Factor on Expenditures and Productivity in the US.” Obesity, 16:

2155 – 2162, 2008.

Nestle M, Jacobson MF. Halting the obesity epidemic: a public health policy approach. Pub Health Rep 2000

“FDA Proposed Rule on Nutrition Labeling on Vending Machines – Kaiser Health Reform.” FDA Proposed Rule on Nutrition Labeling on Vending Machines – Kaiser Health Reform. The Henry J, Kaiser Family Foundation, Apr.-May 2011. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://healthreform.kff.org/Document-Finder/FDA/FDA-Proposed-Rule-on-Nutrition-Labeling-on-Vending-Machines.aspx>.

“Food.” New Menu and Vending Machines Labeling Requirements. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://www.fda.gov/Food/LabelingNutrition/ucm217762.htm>.

“HHS: What We Do.” HHS: What We Do. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://www.hhs.gov/about/whatwedo.html>.

“The Joint Commission.” What Is Accreditation? Web. 18 May 2012. <http://www.jointcommission.org/accreditation/accreditation_main.aspx>.

Office of Regulations Policy and Social Sciences Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Food Labeling: Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines NPRM.” Food Labeling: Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines NPRM. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration, Mar. 2011. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/LabelingNutrition/UCM249278.pdf>.

Thompson, OM, and C. Ballew. “Food Purchased Away from Home as a Predictor of Change in BMI Z-score among Girls.” International Journal of Obesity: 282-89. Nature.com. Nature Publishing Group, 23 Nov. 2003. Web. 20 May 2012. <http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v28/n2/full/0802538a.html>.

If you notice in the picture above the vending machines on my campus have green dots for the healthier items, which is awesome for bringing awareness to “healthier”  addiction treatment program options!

 Thoughts? Do you eat from vending machines? Do you think people will make healthier choices when they see nutritional information on vending machines?

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5 Responses to I Can’t Afford to Eat From A Vending Machiene

  1. SIL says:

    I haven’t eaten from vending machines since college. No, I do not think people will make healthier choices when they see nutritional info on them. The whole reason people eat from vending machines in the first place is lack of resources (i.e. forgot lunch at home, restaurant on campus is closed, no restaurants near-by) or b/c they are craving some salty/sweet/spicy deliciousness. I ate from the vending machines at 2am when I was still in the petrography lab working on identifying samples under the microscope.

  2. Maren says:

    Isn’t that awful. .55 cents should definitely get you one of those mini bags of chips. Sheesh!

  3. I won’t eat from a vending machine period; I’d rather starve than eat the crap that’s in there! Well, unless I have a huge hankering for chocolate then it’s an exception…lol

  4. Floey says:

    I used to envy kids that had enough change to get stuff from vending machines in grade school! The only thing I’ve gotten recently from a VM was soda…

  5. Sonal says:

    I actually had a vending machine close to halls at university and the only time i used it was when I needed some chocolate and the shops were closed and it was also the most convenient way :) Not sure if my will power is strong enough to choose the green dotted items if: i’m really hungry + the other options look so tempting + I have enough money to use a vending machine ;)