Change Happens Slowly In Changing Eating Habits; Remember The War Against Cigarettes?

March 9, 2011
Today, the nation is at a stage on the nutrition front similar to where it was with cigarette smoking in the mid 1960s.
For all the private and public efforts to promote health and nutrition, Americans keep getting fatter. All the news reports on weight bear this out.Refreshment service operators are not looking forward to the calorie disclosure rules that will be finalized and scheduled to take effect in 2012. Operators feel they, along with others, are being expected to address a problem that shows no signs of improving.Last week, I spent time with an operator using a machine that allows customers to view nutrition and ingredient information on a digital touchscreen on the vending machine. The operator said he was surprised by the number of college students who take the time to read the nutritional contents.This is not an isolated circumstance. Many operators who provide nutritional information have noticed that consumers of all ages pay attention to this data.At the same time, operators also say that better for you items are not strong sellers.These seemingly contradictory observations can be hard to reconcile.Consumers do not change their habits quickly. On any given day, a consumer can choose to be health conscious or not.A consumer can decide to become health conscious after reading something in the news or hearing about a relative becoming afflicted by some malady.Those of you Baby Boomers can remember when cigarette smoking was prevalent. Cigarette machines were everywhere and smoking was heavily advertised. You couldnt go anywhere without smelling cigarette smoke.Over the years, habits change, and today, far fewer Americans smoke cigarettes. The change didnt happen overnight. The government mandated health warnings and engaged in a public service campaign against smoking. Governments began restricting cigarette machines. Cigarette advertising became severely regulated. In time, private businesses began restricting cigarette smoking.Today, the nation is at a stage on the nutrition front similar to where it was with cigarette smoking in the mid 1960s. There are few signs of change in peoples habits, but the government has begun an aggressive information campaign.Consumers are starting to pay attention to the obesity problem, and they are starting to change their habits.Vending operators are in a unique position to lead and observe this change.

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