Vending machines impact study

Vending machines impact study

Curtin University student guild began its own sushi line to promote healthy eating.

A study, which found unhealthy food and drinks in vending machines at universities vastly outweighed healthier options has dieticians calling for an overhaul of on-campus vending machines.

The research published in the Dieticians Association of Australia’s journal Nutrition & Dietetics involved an audit of food and drink in 61 large Australian universities.

It found 95 per cent of snacks and 49 per cent of drinks on offer were kilojoule-high or unhealthy.

Chips and chocolate bars were the most common snacks on offer in the machines.

Over the nine-month audit more than 29,000 unhealthy snacks were sold from the machines compared to less than 1600 healthy snacks.

Bottled water was a strong seller but was closely followed by 600ml sugar-high soft drinks, which had on average 14 teaspoons of sugar.

Researcher Amanda Grech and her colleagues said the high number of unhealthy foods available could impair health and academic performance.

“Unhealthy vending machines contribute to excess energy or kilojoule intake over time and this is a big factor in contributing to weight gain,” she said.

She said a typical vending machine snack was around 1800 kilojoules – three times the recommendation for a snack.

A 2013 report by a New York university found having a healthy, balanced diet improved brain capacity, maximised cognitive capabilities and improved academic performance in school-age children.

It found not having enough nutrition could lead to poor academic performance.

Curtin University Student Guild Associate Director of Commercial Services Francois Leuenberger said the Curtin student guild was reviewing healthier options to be incorporated into vending machines on campus.

Mr Leuenberger said the guild had also responded to demand for healthier food by adding healthy options to its guild menu.

“The demand for fresh and healthier alternatives by students led the Guild to create its own sushi brand – Sushi Me – which last year sold 120,000 units of sushi packs, hand rolls and nigiri pieces.” He said.

“As well we offer freshly squeezed juices, fruit salad and vegetarian meals.”

Sushi Me was acknowledged in April when it was shortlisted for the national Tertiary Access Group CampusLink Awards.

The awards were given for excellence in marketing, services, student programs, staff development and innovation within the tertiary sector.