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Obama for Healthy Vending Machines

Last week the Obama administration announced plans to set new legislation in place to remove sugary snacks and drinks from school vending machines. The motivation behind the campaign has arisen from America’s increasing levels of child obesity and diabetes.

Barack is not alone in this war on weight, either. Last month, the first lady, Michelle Obama, also declared plans to lead an initiative aimed at reducing obesity levels amongst their younger population. The ‘Let’s Move’ campaign has been created to try and encourage healthier and more active lifestyles.

The response to this initiative has been generally positive and has received a great deal of support. However, for many American citizens, Obama’s plans to regulate vending machines in schools have not been met with such enthusiasm.

It won’t really come as a surprise to anyone that the food industry is particularly unhappy about this idea, some retaliating with counter-campaigns to try and keep the junk food in the vending machines.

Some other people argue that it will be too expensive and also that the majority will be unfairly disadvantaged as a result of problems among the minority.

Results from the American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted in 1971-1974 showed obesity levels among school-aged adolescents, aged 12-19 years was at 6.1%. The latest figures from the 2003-2006 data set showed this figure had increased to 17.6%.

In addition to the ban on stocking vending machines with snacks and drinks which contain high calorie and sugar levels, the new legislation would set requirements for many schools to supply healthier, more nutritious food and drink options.

This has led to many questioning the financial implications of such rules. This healthy vending machine overhaul could be expensive; a $1 billion budget increase to the existing $18 billion annual meals program, has been proposed by the administration – but some estimate that this may not be adequate to cover the additional expenses.

Here in the UK, we have ourselves recently been subjected to some campaigns for healthier school lunches – notably that which is lead by celebrity chef: Jamie Oliver (who is also now promoting a similar campaign in the United States). This was widely embraced by many and helped increase awareness of the situation.

The move towards healthier food in schools looks to be continuously gathering momentum. Even if not all proposals are welcomed, the motivation remains the same and shows no sign of being lost any time soon.

If this move towards healthy vending in America is sign of things to come, now may be a key time to consider how this shift may affect your vending decisions. As ideas grow in popularity, the concepts behind them often spill in to other areas.

If healthy vending gains greater popularity in schools, the concept may then also cross in to other sectors, as outlooks change and new lifestyles are adopted.

Healthy vending has been an important issue in the UK for a number of years – this is obviously set to be a worldwide vending issue of the future.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/prevalence.html

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