Saving us 63 calories per meal

VendingMarketWatch reported on Sept. 13, 2012, that the New York City Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal of a 16-ounce cap on sweetened bottle drinks and fountain beverages sold in their city’s restaurants, delis, movie theaters, sports venues and street cars. The recently approved cap or “beverage ban” goes into effect on March 12, 2013. But wait! The definition gets even clearer! The “ban” applies to drinks that have more than 25 calories per 8 ounces and apparently does not include 100 percent juice drinks or beverages with more than 50 percent milk. I couldn’t find anything that states if the type of milk plays into this at all, so let’s just say milk.

Now, as everyone probably knows by now, this ban will not apply to vending. But my concern is…yet.

How it all starts

There are already many groups who are applauding New York City’s ban, and encouraging more cities to follow suit. What are they really trying to stop here? Obesity? Researchers from New York University School of Medicine found that on average, people who participated in their study consumed 200 calories from sugar-sweetened beverages. Now, if this group were to switch from drinking a 32-ounce beverage to a 16-ounce beverage, that saved them 63 calories per meal. That’s also assuming that the person changes absolutely nothing else in their diet and doesn’t opt for two 16-ounce beverages to get around the ban. Again. 63 calories saved. This is hardly a dent in the recommended 2,000 calorie diet, in my opinion. If this was truly about trying to lower obesity, the most important element needs to be education, but it seems that in this case, that’s been abandoned.

We also reported in VendingMarketWatch that McDonald’s will post calories for all items on their menus both inside and in the drive-thru. Now this is an idea! Wow- Let the consumer make the decision instead of being “told” what they can or cannot do.

What this means for vending

It’s not so much a matter of if these regulations are going to trickle their way down to us, but it’s more a matter of when. How will you be prepared? How will you take the steps to be proactive instead of reactive? In the short amount of time that I’ve been back in the industry, I’ve seen new technologies that are available to assist you with posting calorie and nutritional information through the use of touchscreen technology. While you might not be in a position today to make the investment in this equipment, have you worked with your locations on ideas to post this information and to show that you and your company are also committed to the wellness and education of the people you serve? Working together to be proactive about this issue now will save you the hassle later when someone else steps in and attempts to save us 63 calories at a time.

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