Vending machines are a convenient option for buying food and nowadays they offer more healthy eating options too.
In 2015, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence set out best practice guidelines to help make vending machines healthier. In particular, they called for vending machines in hospitals and council-run leisure centres to be improved. They aimed to help young people foster healthy eating habits and make it easier for staff working at weekends and evenings to live healthy lifestyles.
The guidelines recommend making it easier for people to make healthy choices by providing them with nutritional information about the food in vending machines. This includes details on calories, fat, sugar and salt levels that we provide in the below example. They also recommend providing low calorie alternatives to common snacks like crisps. So, for example, baked crisps which have less fat can be offered.
The idea isn’t to ban people from eating unhealthy foods but rather to encourage them to only eat them occasionally and in small amounts.
High fat, sugar and salt content
Unhealthy food tends to be high in sugar, salt and fat. Such food also tends to be high in calories, despite not being as filling as healthier alternatives.
Processed food tends to be less healthy because it usually contains lots of salt, which is used as a preservative. Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of developing heart disease.
High fat, salt and sugar content is defined as follows:
- More than 5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams
- More than 22.5 grams of sugar per 100 grams
- More than 1.5 grams salt per 100 grams
Tips for choosing healthier food from vending machines
If you’d like a healthy alternative look out for the following:
- Nut and seed bars – These have healthy fats called omega fatty acids which are better for your heart’s health than saturated fat
- Popcorn – As long as the flavourings used aren’t high in salt or sugar, then this is a healthy option. The high fibre content in popcorn also helps you feel full
- Baked Products – Baked goods rather than fried have a lower fat content, products such as Biscuits, crackers, like cheddars and some cakes
- Soup – This is particularly good if you need something to keep you full for a while
- Pop Chips – These contain less fat than crisps because they’re not deep fried. Instead, they are cooked in a pressurised chamber which makes them pop
- Rice Cakes and Bars – These are low in fat, low in salt and low in calories and make a great alternative to regular snacks
You should also check out the low calorie range of crisps/snacks – Under 100 calories!
Some Fizzy drinks can be high in sugar, so look for healthier alternatives. Here are some options:
- Water – Plain water is your best option but you can also have it with a hint of flavouring as a low-sugar alternative
- Sugar-free tea and coffee – Just keep a check on how much caffeine you have and bear in mind that it isn’t recommended for children and pregnant women
- Smoothies or fruit based drinks – These contain plenty of nutrients like vitamins and minerals but don’t forget they can have lots of sugar too, so it’s best to drink them in moderation
GEM’s healthy vending machines
GEM is committed to encouraging healthy eating in a number of ways:
- You’ll find QR codes on all our machines, so you can use your smartphone to easily look up nutritional information, such as calories.
- At least 15% of the products in all our machines are healthy and we consistently trial new products, so we can offer you the products you like!
We use a green dot to help you identify healthy options at a glance