This here post was inspired by my dear alma mater.
According to a press release from the American Beverage Association, pretty soon vending machines will have calorie counts slapped onto selection buttons in an effort to encourage people to make healthier choices.
I’ve written before about how I think that nutrition info being more readily accessible on menus and on packaging is a good thing. And I think that this, too is another step in the right direction. With a calorie count next to “B2,” consumers are forced to consider this information before making their selections. Whether this affects the final decision or not, at least more people are thinking about it. Which brings me to three points.
1. This initiative, I believe, is a much more effective effort than simply banning certain products in schools or even cities (i.e. The Big Gulp). People want to have choices and they should be able to
make their own decisions.
2. The release also mentions that beverage companies will make more lower-calorie selections available. I support that initiative as well (which is why I got so excited when I first saw one of those Sprout vending machines.)
3. Although a little impractical logistically and probably irrelevant for someone who is making a selection from a soda machine, I still feel the need to address the fact that calories are not the only nutritional fact to be concerned with. (Especially when certain companies are putting out information like this, suggesting that zero calories do no damage.) There are many who will argue that a full-sugared beverage that is made with real sugar and natural ingredients is better for you than a zero-calorie diet drink that is filled with artificial chemicals. (I actually have a blog post that has been saved as a draft for over a year that tries to decide which is the better option. I still don’t know. Which is why it remains unpublished.) So while providing calorie information is a fabulous start, (kudos, ABA,) there are still more nutritional factors like fat, sugar, sodium and artificial ingredients, to name a few, that consumers should consider. But they’re all probably not going to fit on a vending machine label.