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A Vending Machine with an Attitude

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  January 30, 2012 10:41 AM

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Photo: Intermountain Healthcare
 You are probably thinking that if you’ve seen one vending machine, you’ve seen them all.   Typically, they are chock full of sweets and treats with often the “healthiest” choice being a measly oatmeal raisin cookie or chocolate covered peanuts.

Well, there is a new kid on the block, well, at least on a block in Utah.  The LiVe Vending Machine, which is the brainchild of Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, is a full-sized, vending machine (see photo to the left) that doesn’t take money or even dispense snack foods.  Rather, it is a talking vending machine, full of fake foods, which dispenses humorous messages about the healthy qualities, or lack thereof, of the food chosen when you push the corresponding button.  The back talk from this sassy machine is intended to educate Utah middle school and high school students about healthy food choices and positive lifestyle changes in a light-hearted fashion. It is part of a larger, community-based program.  The machine has been test marketed in Utah schools and is wildly popular with both the students and parents. 

“Our goal with the LiVe campaign is to approach this important issue from a child’s point of view and offer positive, helpful solutions for families.  LiVe can help children be more physically active and make more healthy food choices,” according to Dr. Tamara Sheffield, LiVe’s medical director of Community Health and Prevention. 

Here’s a sample of some of the messages coming from the machine:

If you pressed the button under the fake potato chips, you would hear:
“Potatoes come from Idaho; potato chips come from the deep fat fryer.”

If you press on the phony candy bar button, you would hear:
“How about you run to the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit or somethin’?  You could use a healthy snack and the run wouldn’t hurt either.”

Ironically, this new vending machine comes on the heels of recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that approximately 17 percent of America’s youth, ages 2 to 19, are obese.

Click on the video below to see the LiVe Vending Machine in action.

“This fake snack vending machine is an innovative tool to get kids thinking about the products they choose from vending machines.  It is a very tech savvy idea that could be a great educational tool for kids and adults alike,” according to Debbi Beauvais, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

To view a virtual LiVe machine on the web, click here.

So what are your thoughts?  Post your comments below.

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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