The United States is home to around 7 million vending machines. More than 100 million of us buy snacks or drinks from them every day.
Of course, many of us have plans to stick to a healthy diet or lose weight. That doesn’t mean a severe case of the munchies or thirst won’t strike us while we’re at work or school.
As we stare into the plexiglass of a vending machine, however, we realize that there’s a lack of healthy vending machine options. In fact, about three out of every four item in a snack machine falls into the junk food category.
This often leaves us with two choices: opt for an unhealthy item or suffer in silence, with only a growling stomach to comfort us.
Still not convinced this is a serious issue? Read on to learn why having access to healthy snack machine items is more important than you may think.
Which Vending Machine Snacks Are Actually Healthy?
We all know the sodas, candy bars, and snack cakes we find in the average vending machine are off limits when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. So what, exactly, should we be striving to eat or fill up our vending machines with?
If you want the healthiest option, you should go with a bottle of water over anything else. Are you in the mood for a less boring beverage or something you can’t get from the water fountain? In that case, you could also opt for tea or a zero calorie soda that’s naturally sweetened, rather than a coke made with corn syrup or aspartame.
And when hunger hits, you usually find yourself struggling to decide between potato chips and a bag of chocolate candies. But what if you went with dry roasted pistachios or organic applesauce instead?
While it’s hard to fathom that snack machines with these options exist, the truth is that they do.
For example, companies like Healthy You Vending only sell healthy vending machine items. And by the looks of things, their fans are plenty thankful for it, too.
Why We Need Healthy Vending Machine Options
Some junk foods found in vending machines almost seem to melt in your mouth. But believe it or not, this actually tricks your brain into thinking the food doesn’t have any calories. As a result, it becomes harder to tell when you’ve eaten too much of something, and you end up craving more and more of it.
Ready to kick unhealthy snack machine foods to the curb? Here are 3 reasons why we need to have healthier vending machine items to choose from.
1. Combating the Growing Obesity Rate
The obesity rate in the US continues to climb upward, as two in five adults and one in five children are now obese. And the heaps of unhealthy food found in vending machines isn’t helping.
While some would continue eating junk if given healthier options, not everyone would. Low-cal vending machine items would help contribute to curbing the obesity problem in the country.
2. The Health & Wellness Industry Is Thriving
Surveys reveal that 41% of Gen Z consumers and 31% of Millenials are willing to shell out more money for healthy products.
Young buyers are extremely health-conscious. This is one of the biggest reasons organic and all-natural products are now selling so well. There’s never been a better time for vending operators to embrace the trend.
3. Making A Positive Impact on Future Generations
If you visit a school, you’ll likely find plenty of vending machines all over the campus.
Unfortunately, studies show that kids who consume food or drinks from vending machines get less Vitamin B, fiber, and iron than kids who don’t. Not to mention, childhood obesity rates continue to skyrocket.
By introducing healthier vending machine items, we can encourage kids to develop better eating habits at a young age. These new options may also help address some nutritional deficiencies children have.
The Ugly Truth About Unhealthy Vending Machine Items
Aspartame, corn syrup, and blue 2–these are just a few ingredients you might see if you venture below the calorie count on a nutrition label. And while they won’t harm you on the spot, none of them are particularly good for you either.
In fact, some evidence suggests that high fructose corn syrup may have something to do with the growing diabetes epidemic.
Also, many diet sodas contain aspartame, a common yet controversial artificial sweetener. The vast majority of studies have found no link between aspartame and cancer. But a couple of studies conducted on rats suggest that too much aspartame could lead to lymphoma and leukemia.
Artificial colors may pose a threat to your health as well. For instance, some studies have linked red 3 to thyroid cancer.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the FDA still considers both aspartame and most artificial colors to be safe for consumption. That said, some consumers still have their worries and doubts.
Always check the label for ingredients so you know what you’re putting in your body. Healthy snack makers typically replace aspartame and corn syrup with stevia, which is a low-cal, natural sweetener. They also tend to use natural colors made from foods like beets, spinach, curcumin, and carrots.
Making the Case for Healthy Options
Food is one of the most enjoyable aspects of life, as we eat and drink away about 1.2 hours of our time each day. This means you’ll spend roughly 438 hours (or 18 days) consuming food and beverages over the next year.
You shouldn’t have to feel guilty about buying (and enjoying) a food or beverage from a vending machine. There are plenty of advantages to having reliable access to convenient yet healthy options on the go.
Healthy vending machine options wouldn’t just benefit businesses and adult consumers. As we learned, they could also have a positive impact on the health of children.
Ready to devour the latest health guides and tips? If so, be sure to head over to the health & wellness section of our blog for more!