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Study: Healthy Vending Machines Reduce Sugar Intake

Health Vending in Hospitals

It appears as though efforts taken by the NHS to encourage people to eat more healthy snacks are paying off. A recent study undertaken by Leeds Teaching Hospital's NHS trust, one of the largest such trusts in England, shows that healthy vending lead to staff, patients, and visitors to more frequently choose healthier snacks over crisps and fizzy drinks.

Action taken by the NHS has already resulted in changes to 632 vending machines in trust hospitals. The machines, located at more than 100 hospitals, have been overhauled to include healthy snacks and beverages like dried fruit and bottled water. At the same time, some unhealthy drinks and mixed snacks have been removed.

How the Research Was Conducted

Key to the research was the decision to not completely eliminate all unhealthy choices. Rather, a few key items were removed and replaced with healthier choices placed in prominent, visible locations. The strategy was intended to give customers equal opportunity to purchase healthy and unhealthy products.

Here are the results of the study, as reported by the Guardian:

  • Sales of crisps fell
  • Sales of sugary drinks fell 38%
  • Bottled water sales rose by 54%
  • Overall vending sales increased.

The last statistic is perhaps the most important. Overall vending machine sales went up despite the fact that the products people chose contained 26% fewer calories and 25% less sugar. The study demonstrates that people will purchase healthy snacks and beverages when placed side-by-side with unhealthier options, even when convenience is the main factor.

Healthy Vending Machines Are Better

The Guardian was quick to point out that hospitals are prime targets for vending machines. And why not? The whole concept of vending is built around two primary factors: impulse and convenience. A vending operator always looks to place machines in locations where impulse buyers are most likely to visit. The right location makes purchasing something from a vending machine super convenient.

Hospital patients, visitors, and staff are ripe for both impulse and convenience purchases. Staff are usually too busy to take the time for a full meal when all they want is a quick snack. Patients are obviously limited in their choices, and visitors tend to not bring food with them from home. So all three groups go to the vending machines when hunger kicks in.

The NHS study validates what we have been saying for years: healthy vending machines are better machines for the simple fact that they encourage people to make more healthy food choices. Our industry can no longer say that demand requires us to continue offering sugary drinks and chips exclusively. The data proves there is an equally strong market for healthier products.

If you are looking to get in on the healthy vending market, we would be happy to offer you competitive solutions. Healthy vending machines are ideal for hospitals, health clinics, leisure centres, gyms, and anywhere else people gather. You just need a location that takes advantage of impulse and convenience.

Sources:

Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/22/healthier-snack-options-hospital-vending-machines-sugar