Soda Vending Machines on Probation?

New soda vending machine markets have helped the growth of the soda vending machine industry. As the soda vending machine industry expands, so too does the prevalence of soda vending machines. Soda vending machines can be found everywhere, from parks and malls to public schools. Soda vending machines go along with the American way of life; which strives for efficiency and convenience. However, in recent years, soda vending machines in public schools have come under much criticism.

Soda vending machine consumption is being blamed for the childhood obesity epidemic. Recent studies have shown that 71% of children bought sugary beverages from soda vending machines at school. The study also found that students were three times more likely to purchase a sugary beverage than another product from a soda vending machine. Many critics of soda vending machines in schools are using this data to substantiate claims that soda vending machines are a fundamental cause of childhood obesity. However, there are many causes to obesity and surely the soda vending machine should not bare the blame alone.

Children get sugary beverages from many other outlets besides soda vending machines. Half of the sodas children consume are obtained at home and 22% at fast food restaurants. Therefore, simply removing soda vending machines from schools would only have a limited impact upon a child’s consumption of sugary drinks.

Instead of trying to ban soda vending machines from schools, lawmakers should strive for better nutritional education in schools. Both children and their parents need better education on healthy choices. It will do little good to remove soda vending machines from schools, if a parent is supplying their child with sugary drinks at home.

Despite the need for a nutrition based educational campaign, schools have pressed ahead with their war on soda vending machines. 38% of schools report having a no soda policy for soda vending machines.

Soda vending machine operators have also stepped in to help promote better health. Many soda vending machine operators stock their soda vending machines with milk, water, and other healthier alternatives to soda. However, as statistics show, children consistently choose sweetened drinks over healthy drinks.

The fact is that there are soda vending machines and sugary products everywhere. Bans and restrictions can only reach so far: we cannot outlaw sugar. The only thing that can truly fight obesity is the knowledge and ability to make healthy decisions.


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