Obesity – it’s not just about chocolate
“Twinkle, twinkle, chocolate bar
My dad drives a rusty car
Start the engine, pull the choke
Off we go in a cloud of smoke….”
Regrettably, this story will not disappear in a cloud of smoke. In this blog we outline how the manufacturers and the vending industry are responding to Government initiatives to tackle obesity.
Obesity in the UKA shocking 28.1% of UK citizens were classed as obese in 2014. Nearly one third of children aged between 2 and 15 are obese or overweight, more than any other country in Europe causing concern to The Worldwide Health Organisation.
It’s not just about chocolate.Fast food, fat, and now sugar have been blamed for rising obesity levels. How will this impact on our favourite chocolate bar or drink? The issue is far more complex than just how much chocolate we consume. France, Spain and Italy also experience high levels of obesity, but their confectionery consumption is a lot lower than in the UK.
There is no doubt that the nation’s health needs to improve. Recently the media has reported the increased cost of treating obesity-related conditions, and highlighted the possibility of charging people for obesity-related healthcare and surgery in an attempt to raise awareness and encourage people to take responsibility for their own health.
How is the vending industry contributing?The confectionary industry has responded to government initiatives by reducing the portion size of individual chocolate bars and limiting them to a maximum of 250 calories. Snacks manufacturers also responded. Many have reduced the fat content and pack sizes of standard crisps, and introduced a number of “baked” rather than “fried” snacks to their ranges. The proposed “sugar tax” has prompted drinks manufacturers to look again at their product ranges and there are some exciting new sugar-free drinks regularly entering the marketplace.
Healthier products – are they really healthy?There are many misconceptions regarding healthy snacks. Many products contain a large amount of sugar and have low nutritional value; therefore it is up to the consumer to understand what is in the product that categorises it as healthy, and to determine whether it is healthy for them. Everybody’s needs are different, and what suits one person’s nutritional needs may not suit another. Vending machines from Westways Vending offer a range of products to suit varying dietary needs and lifestyle requirements.
“People on low incomes cannot afford to eat healthily”The economic argument frequently rears its head. It is suggested that low income families have a poor diet due to financial limitations, however in supermarkets, £1 can purchase a larger quantity of vegetables than chocolate, crisps or fizzy drinks. Maybe we have not taught people how to cook them, and how good they can taste!
A snack is not a meal replacementSnack vending machines are increasingly vilified as the cause of obesity. Westways Vending snack machines offer a selection of snacks (the clue is in the name!) They are not intended as meal replacement machines; they are designed to complement people’s daily diet. Having an occasional snack can form part of a balanced diet, but it is not the machine’s fault if it is being regularly used to purchase a substitute for a meal.
Sugary drinks are being equally vilified, however with the approach of the impending sugar tax, it is surprising how many sugar-free drinks are now entering the marketplace. As vending operators, this is great news for us; after all we can only offer what the manufacturers produce. Westways Vending cold drinks machines present the consumer with a choice; what they choose to purchase from the range is beyond our control.
Choosing what to eat and drink is a lifestyle choice.Although manufacturers have been forced to change portion sizes, individuals must take responsibility for their own health and well-being. Education and nutritional knowledge could help people to make healthier choices, however, an element of self-control and a willingness to embrace change is equally important.
Here at Westways Vending, we thoroughly evaluate every new product we receive before we agree to stock it. We pay particular attention to the selection of “healthy” options, and of course everything has to pass the taste test too!
Healthy eating has never had such a high profile. Let’s hope it starts to reflect in a fall in obesity levels and an improvement in the nation’s health. To find out more about snacks and cold drinks from Westways Vending, please call Ian on 0800 195 3170 or look online.