“Calories Count—Check Then Choose” is the new slogan that will be used on vending machines across the country beginning in 2013. Large beverage companies such as Coke, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper are voluntarily making changes to their vending machines to display the number of calories per selection. They are also making sure to offer a variety of low and no-calorie drinks.
The changes come both as a reaction to the growing blame that is being placed on sugary beverage companies for the national obesity epidemic and as a proactive measure to stay ahead of coming legislation that will require restaurant chains and vending machines with more than 20 locations to clearly post calorie information on their menus. This legislation is part of the Obama Care plan.
By staying ahead of the coming requirements, the beverage companies are demonstrating a desire to be proactive and to provide consumers with a variety of choices. David Just, the director of Cornell University’s center for behavioral economics in child nutrition programs applauds the beverage companies for making these voluntary changes. He states that this is likely to be more effective than legislative measures that could backfire (referring to New York City’s upcoming ban on the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces).
Will these new vending machines make a difference in the nation’s obesity crisis? Obviously, sugary beverages are not the only things that have contributed to our obesity problems in America, but the new machines may be a step in the right direction toward encouraging people to think about their beverage and food choices. Studies have shown that people are somewhat less likely to choose a high-calorie option when the facts are presented to them at the point of sale. The hope is that people will choose the high-calorie, high-sugar options less frequently and opt for no-calorie or low-calorie drinks as the norm.
The cities of Chicago and San Antonio will be the first test locations for these new vending machines. The rest of the country can expect to see vending machines being changed out over the course of the year 2013. What do you think about these new vending machines? Do you think these types of efforts will help with America’s obesity problem, or are there other things that should be done in addition or instead?