New Vending Machines to have Calorie Counts to Curb Obesity

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COLUMBIA - As the criticism of sugary sodas continues, the American Beverage Association (ABA) announced this week a new way for consumers to know just how many calories they are drinking. This information will be displayed on new soda vending machines starting next year at municipal buildings in Chicago and San Antonio and then possibly made available to consumers nationwide.

"I think it's important for consumers to know what they are purchasing before they purchase it. It's helpful to be an informed consumer," said Director of Nutrition Services for Columbia Public Schools Laina Fullum.

The new machines will display calorie counts for individual beverages from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Dr. Pepper Snapple.

The calorie counts will be placed on the selection button, rather than just posted on the side. There will be decals on the vending machines reminding consumers to count calories or to choose lower-calorie options. The ABA is working with vending partners to increase the number of lower-calorie drink options available in the machines.

"I think it would be a good idea for people to be able to see the amount of calories in sodas because it will make them think more before they purchase it. And then hopefully, they can consider the healthier option. A lot of people who drink multiple sodas a day, at least I see in the healthcare field, and they don't realize how many calories that actually is," said University of Missouri student Melissa Luechtefeld.

Even though calories will be posted on the vending machine, it is up to the individual to choose the drink that is right for his/her diet.

"I think people are going to buy the soda no matter what. They usually know how many calories are in a I don't think its going to change their behavior as much," said MU student Amy Armstrong.

This move comes after the soda industry has been under scrutiny recently because of its connection to increasing obesity.

"Excessive calories in the form of soda, or any excessive calories, regardless of soda or not, are going to contribute to weight gain," said Fullum.

Just last month, New York City's Board of Health voted to ban the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and other venues as an initiative to help curb obesity. This vending machine program is trying to decrease the problem also by providing clear calorie information, encouraging lower-calorie beverage choices and reminding consumers that calories count in all the choices they make.