Vending Machines

from Yolanda Evans, MD


 Did You Know that Vending Machines Can Impact Kid’s Food Choices?

A new research study of a nationally representative sample of 6th to 8th graders found that vending machines both on and off school sites have a significant influence on their food choices. Students with access to vending machines that sold fruits and vegetables, 100% juice and healthy snacks reported eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more juice. The opposite was also true: students with access to vending machines selling sweets and candies reported eating more sweets and candies. The old saying, “what you see is what you get” refers to food choices as well.

The types of food and beverages available at schools include: school lunch and breakfast options, foods and beverages that are in the cafeteria as a la carte items and in some cases through vending machines and finally, foods and beverages brought from home.  The foods in school lunch and breakfast options are required to follow federal guidelines for nutritional content. Recently, all foods and beverages sold in school cafeterias and vending machines are required to follow these guidelines as well.

This is an important study that provides evidence that students will eat the food that is available to them.  Here are some ways that parents and families can help their children make healthy food choices:

  1. Encourage your child to eat a wide variety of foods.  This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein.
  2. Eating things like candy and chips should be limited to the occasional treat.
  3. If your child has access to vending machines, both on and off campus, talk with your child about options that may be better food choices than others (for example, raisins are sweet and a healthier choice than chocolates).



A.J. Rovner et al.  Journal of Adolescent Health 48 (2011) 13–19
USDA Food and Nutrition Service. food of minimal nutritional value. Available
at:, 2009.