Vending Snacks In The Cross-hairs At Veteran Affairs Hospitals

Oct. 22, 2018

Research from the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center published in the journal Nutrition says vending machines filled with traditional products at Veterans Affairs Hospitals send a mix message, according to UPMC. The study examined food and beverages offered in 2,844 vending machines at the 172 VA Hospital facilities throughout the United States, including Puerto Rico. The study found that of the beverages supplied, 49 percent contained more than 55 grams of sugar, or more than 10 percent of daily calories in added sugar in a single serving. The 65 available food items were composed of: 28 percent candy, 14 percent potato chips/puffed corn snacks, 11 percent pastries/frosted baked goods, 11 percent crackers/pretzels, 8 percent nuts/trail mix, and the remainder was jerky, pork rinds, gum and popcorn. Nuts/trail mix and granola are the only items meeting nutritional guidelines.

 “The 2015-2020 U.S. Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines recommend avoiding sugary beverages, candy, cookies and other sources of simple and refined carbohydrates that provide little to no nutritional value,” said UPMC radiation oncologist Colin E. Champ, M.D., assistant professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “For those of us counseling our patients on a healthy diet and lifestyle, all of our efforts get derailed when the foods we say to avoid are easily available in our own hospitals.”