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School Vending Machines, Choice Versus Regulation

So much emphasis today is about portion control versus value. These seem to be the most fraught battles festering between folks interested in making legislation to fight obesity and folks afraid that regulating large food corporations is just step one towards a nanny state of restricted choices for citizens. Still, on either side of the argument there seems to be some agreement to basics on both sides of the debate. No one for example is looking to take away school vending machines all together. Instead the emphasis is generally on what said vending machines should stock and how large those items should be.

Recently when New York mayor Michael Bloomberg started talking up a wide spread ban on extra large sodas people had a bit of a tizzy. Some worried that this was the first step towards making the full scale banning of sugary drinks and snacks justifiable and legal. Still others thought that the law would only be a band-aid on a nationwide health wound that was becoming worse and worse each day. In this debate school vending machines were not even brought up. While over the past several years school districts through out the country have begun to close budget gaps with snack and soda vending in schools the specter of a tightening on these machines availability or at least what they offer has grown along with their popularity.

Luckily for the vending machine manufacturers of the world soda and candy companies seem eager to comply prior to being reined in by legislation. Soft drink companies have taken to reducing the sizes of their servings and offering more and more low calorie options. The candy and chip companies seem willing to play ball in these areas as well. Should all of those efforts fail though the folks working on and stocking vending machines will likely shift their businesses to all health conscious options. As time marches on it seems in spite of the push and pull of the debate that it will become less and less common to see piles of sugary candy and sodas in vending machines.

Of course this does nothing to address the actual problems that a lack of personal restraint can cause. This is why it is perhaps more important to teach children how to wisely use snack vending machines as opposed to simply cutting them off from these options. Either way the debate about our collective health and our ability to make decisions rages on.


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