A Pennsylvania State University study published in the journal, Sociology of Education, has raised a lot of eyebrows recently concerning the role (or lack thereof) that vending plays in child obesity. As VendingMarketWatch reported on 01-20-12, researchers found that children’s weight gain between fifth and eighth grades was not associated with the introduction or the duration of exposure to competitive food sales in middle school. The researchers found that the habits established in the home are what causes kids to be overweight.
What else is new, you ask?
This report certainly comes as no surprise to anyone in the vending industry. Studies have long established that kids do not consume enough food or beverages at school to make them obese.
But as tiring as this issue has become to many of us, we have a responsibility to address it because it isn’t’ going away and our industry is in the cross hairs, like it or not.
The response to this study has been interesting. Some people are finally realizing the challenge of changing kids’ habits is much bigger than the presence of school vending machines. Today’s VendingMarketWatch carries a thoughtful blog on this topic from Slate.com. (To read it, click here.)
Others, predictably, are attacking this study and are clamoring for more regulation of vending and competitive foods at school.
Don’t dismiss these concerns, as irrational as they may seem. Children’s health is a highly emotional issue, especially to parents.
VendingMarketWatch and others have encouraged the industry to take a visible role in addressing this issue.
The vending industry has taken a proactive role in addressing the issue in several ways. We have discussed these efforts at length in the past, but certain facts bear repeating.
Vending machines are one of the most useful tools schools have to promote healthy options, thanks to new technology.
Vending machines are being used to identify students, authorize transactions, dispense healthy meals, chart nutritional consumption, and compile audit data for compliance with subsidized and reimbursable meals programs.
In addition, vending machines reduce waiting time in cafeteria lunch lines, a major concern among school foodservice directors.
The child obesity issue is very serious and the food industry cannot ignore it. The food industry faces the same problems of all other industries posed by declining health of its future employees.
Vending and refreshment service operators need to stay informed about health and obesity. It’s on people’s minds.