Snack attack: S.A. serves new guidelines for vending machines

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by Wendy Rigby / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on May 22, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 4:27 PM

SAN ANTONIO -- Metro Health and the Health Collaborative have released new guidelines to help San Antoniansmake better decisions at the vending machine. But don't worry, chips and candy bars aren't going anywhere.

This is not the latest incarnation of the food police. These aren’t mandates. They’re suggestions to try to help tackle San Antonio’s growing obesity problem.
 
Food you get out of a vending machine isn’t known for its nutritional quality. But local health advocates want to see that change.
 
Metro Health and the Health Collaborative unveiled new suggestions for revamping the kinds of snacks San Antonians grab on the go.
 
“Really, anywhere a vending machine is located, we want to provide this as a gift to the community to be able to take a look at the options that they currently have and provide families a new choice,” said Elizabeth Delafuentes, executive director of the Health Collaborative.
 
The criteria suggest items that are less than 200 calories, less than 35 percent of calories from fat or saturated fat. Also, no more than 35 percent of calories as sugar or 250 milligrams of sodium. Plus, no fried food.
 
The suggestion is that 75 percent of the items in machines fit those guidelines.
 
“This is really a voluntary program and so we’re asking, challenging businesses and organizations that have vending machines to say ‘let’s try something a little different and let’s try a healthier choice,’” explained Kathy Shields, manager of Chronic Disease Prevention for Metro Health.
 
Another new launch is a new Healthy Snacks app for children, taking a gaming approach to encouraging good food choices.
 
“What better way for a child to take a look and also have fun at the same time?” Delafuentes said.
 
The Alamo City has more than its share of obesity and diabetes.
 
“You know, that’s a large part of our population,” Shields added. “And it’s something that we can do something about. Just offering people healthier choices for snacks is a step in the right direction.
 
San Antonio is actually ahead of the curve with these guidelines. We’re one of only a handful of cities in the country addressing vending machine foods.
 
By the numbers

Under the new guidelines, 75 percent of vending machine snacks should contain:

  • Less than 200 calories
  • Less than 35 percent of calories from fat or saturated fat
  • Less than 35 percent of calories as sugar
  • Less than 250 milligrams of sodium
  • No fried food

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