Vending Machines Make Utah’s Naughty List

Aug. 8, 2013

So this week’s blog will really be more of an incredulous head shaking rant. Did any of you see the new exhibit at the Discovery Gateway Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah? In case you haven’t, it is a vending machine that, when kids try to buy from it, yells at them to back away for the benefit of their health, according to KSL news.

One strange idea of diet education

I can’t help but sigh that this is someone’s idea of teaching children about nutrition and the proper diet. A vending machine that slams their attempt to eat? It’s funny, really, and completely unrealistic. From the video, the machine seems to only focus on bad choices – there is no right answer.

There are times in people lives when the vending machine is the only or best option, or heck, they just want a candy bar. There are healthier choices, in every eating venue, and that is what educators should focus on for kids – not vilifying all products in a snack machine. Come on now - a bottle of water or granola bar, compared to soda and BBQ chips, are those really the same? And what about the idea that when someone eats a proper diet, adding a candy bar isn’t going to hurt them.

Even the USDA didn’t go this crazy when it finalized its new strict school vending rules. The USDA didn’t oust the whole automatic merchandising industry. And while I can’t say I agree with the USDA rules as a whole, they didn’t launch an anti-vending campaign as the Discover Gateway Museum seems to be doing.

Attention getting political statements

I suppose when someone has an agenda, any industry is fair game to bash. But really, where’s the research correlating the rate of obesity to how often someone indulges in a snack from a vending machine? ‘Back away for the sake of your health’ seems pretty generalized and I don’t think kids will really get the message. Research shows education is the best defense. That’s what a museum is supposed to do after all, isn’t it? But instead, vending machines have been added to the Utah youth’s “don’t” list.