Vending machine revolution sparks war against obesity

We live in a world of convenience where being a hunter/gatherer equates to a quick jaunt to the local convenience store for some pre-packed, nuclear heatable, instant spaceman stomach filler, or, during our working hours for many of us it’s a prompt scan of the nearest vending machine followed by a glut of hunger driven purchases.

 

Gone are the days of foraging for food in the undergrowth, stalking animals or vegetables with spears and nets, replaced instead by the future of food – instamatic gratification.

 

As a child I marvelled at the idea of food from a machine, especially having seen Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and the whole Star Wars saga (I exclude the three dreadful prequels and their almost silent film quality dialogue, lack of plot and weak characters aimed at four-year-olds) so when I encountered ‘hot tomato soup’ in a cup my world exploded. I was one step closer to the future.

 

The future is now - even Buck Rogers didn't have vending machines like this and he was in the 25th century.

Of course we now live in the future as predicted by Quinn-Martin, George Lucas, etal, and our vending machines refrigerate, cook or cool our desired snack choices without a single question as to how from us. More impressive is the manner in which they dispense said choices nowadays; a robotic cradle zipping back and forth on a sliding grid (like an Etch-a-Sketch from the 25th century) delivering our sodas without a hint of shake or violence, all to the soundtrack of rapid buzzes and hums.

 

Kraftwerk would have been proud.

 

But that’s where the impressiveness ends. After gathering our choice we consume rather rapidly and garner about as much satisfaction from it as watching a small child fall over without tears to follow.

 

The problem lies within the food itself. In fact it’s hard to describe what comes out of vending machines as food any more, seeing that most of it is produced by chemical companies who use us as a living Petri dish. They dump more and more non-natural products into food than ever before and the excessive use of sodium and sugar based products has led to a massive hike in obesity cases the world over.

 

Convenience has turned our world to Planet Fat.

 

The familiar old enemies as seen in vending machine windows. Sugar and cancer in a flash.

For a while there was a lot of propaganda about obesity being healthy and normal; the term ‘obese’ even being downgraded to include anyone overweight – even by a gram.

 

[adsense]This pathetic attempt to hide the true and ugly nature of obesity has for the most part failed but the world is waking up to the fact that we are, as the saying goes, what we eat. If you consume fatty, over-salted or excessively sugary foods then you’re on a fast-track to obesity and its associated illnesses; diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure to name but a few. More links to food types and cancer are surfacing every day so with that in mind one American company is doing its part to combat the rise in obesity in a country where 33% of the population suffer with the disease.

 

As soon as vending machines started appearing in schools it was the beginning of the end for good health. With children being indoctrinated into the culture of junk snacks and trash food obesity was sure to follow. Candy, does not a a good meal make.

 

Enter Fresh Health Vending, H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending and Vend Natural, three companies which consider themselves to be anti-obesity knights atop mighty war horses, charging into battle in gleaming armour made from low fat, low carb, low sugar snacks, swinging their mighty axes of alternative yet equally priced healthy foods, decapitating Snickers, Coca-Cola and Cheetos with every massive scything arc.

 

These bright and colourful vending machines offer alternative choices to Snickers, Coca-Cola and Cheetos.

These companies are at the heart of a fast food revolution and are trying to change the culture of vending machines overstocked with sugary or high-sodium content foods by offering healthy alternatives such as natural apple crisps, soy milk, carrot sticks, bananas and even silk chocolate cookies.

 

While opinion is divided on the alternatives, many people have taken well to them and Martha Blood who invested in a Fresh Health Vending franchise in San Diego and installed 10 brightly designed machines in various outlets including St. Luke’s Hospital feels the increase in choice is proving to be a success.

 

She is actively promoting the franchise by offering free tasting sessions and the reaction from the public has been encouraging.

 

“They’re excited to try it and for it to be an option in their office,” she said.

 

A new wave of healthy alternatives are turning the tide against obesity.

Emily Allinder, St Luke’s Hospital’s director for strategic business development, treated herself to a bag of Fuji apple crisps and offered her opinion mid snack.

 

“They’re very good,” she offered with a mouthful. “I’m a vegetarian, and I try not to eat vending machine food because of the high sugar and sodium content. But if you can grab something out of a machine without compromising healthiness, that’s ideal.”

 

VENDING MACHINE COMPARISONS

 

These are samples of products taken from St. Luke’s Hospital’s vending machines, traditional and the new healthy options.

 

 


Standard Item

Price

Calories

Total Fat (g)

Sodium (mg)

Carbs (g)

Snickers

$1

280

14

140

35

Cheetos

$1

320

25

590

30

Coke

$1.35

240

0

75

65

Ding Dongs

$1.25

360

19

230

47

Famous Amos cookies

$1.25

280

13

200

38


Healthy Item

Price

Calories

Total Fat (g)

Sodium (mg)

Carbs (g)

Barbara’s fruit & yogurt bar

$1

150

3

125

28

Pirate Booty rice and corn puffs

$1.50

130

5

140

19

Silk chocolate soy milk

$1.75

150

3

100

25

Brothers-All-Natural apple crisps

$1.50

40

0

0

9

Back to Nature cookies

$1.25

170

8

95

24


 

The dream for these companies is to have their machines and accompanying food choices installed in schools across America and in doing so they could usher in a wave of healthy eating that might just start to wash away the stains of obesity that now well and truly blight American society.

How Planet Fat is shaping up. Obesity is growing ever larger. Pun intended.

 

By introducing the machines gradually and offering education on the products available (as some machines do with LCD TV’s displaying infomercials about the healthy alternatives), there is less risk of a public backlash and people stubbornly sticking to tried and trusted favourites like Snickers, etc. There is a wide enough market to attract a big crowd, and without trying to replace or dislodge

the veteran brands, the new vending machines do at least deserve a chance to gain a foothold in a massive market. Who knows? They may even change the shape of America.

 

Your opinion is valuable to us so please feel free to share it by leaving a comment.

 

Read more about obesity and how it tops the list of child concerns, its link to Fibromyalgia, new grants made available to help, the risk of premature death in young obesity cases and obesity linked to diabetes in the elderly.

 

images: freshhealthyvendingfranchisee.com, dhvending.com, paydayadvanceuk.co.uk, news.bbc.co.uk, vendingconnection.com, vitavending.com