Vending machine dispenses advice, not food

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SALT LAKE CITY — Students at Rose Park Elementary are not getting the usual goodies from their new vending machine. Instead, they're getting seasoned advice wrapped in a humorous message.

The snacks in the machines are fake, but it is their messages Intermountain Healthcare wants to emphasize. The company introduced earlier this month snack machines that are meant to educate Utah's children to make good choices about food.

The full-size, modified machines do not accept money or dispense snacks. Instead, they dispense humorous advice concerning the selected snack and suggest healthy alternatives.

The phony products include a full selection of candy bars, chips, cookies and desserts. Intermountain said the machines are intended to "help kids understand the importance of making healthy food choices in a fun and entertaining way."

The machines are a part of Intermountain's LiVe program, which emphasizes teen fitness and health. the program emphasizes healthy eating, an active lifestyle and healthy attitudes toward food and fitness.

Overweight children ...
  • are at greater risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, asthma and cancer
  • are more likely to experience social and psychological problems
  • are more likely to experience memory and learning problems due to sleep apnea
Source: Intermountain Healthcare

Also available as a part of the program is a LiVe mobile application, with food and activity trackers and ideas for meals and activities.

The program is centered around eight healthy habits children and young adults can develop to help them to lead a healthy lifestyle. Intermountain encourages eating breakfast, eating fruits and vegetables and limiting or eliminating sweetened drinks. Increased physical activity and decreased "screen time" — whether in front of a computer or TV — are also important, according to the company.

Parents can help develop healthy attitudes within their families by being positive about food, refraining from criticizing children about their weight and planning family meals.

The LiVe website includes detailed suggestions on how to live a healthy lifestyle and develop lifelong healthy habits.

The program is aimed at helping youths as childhood obesity has increasingly become a problem in the United States. Overweight children in the U.S. have a 70- to 80- percent chance of becoming overweight or obese, largely due to unhealthy food choices, limited physical activity and other unhealthy lifestyle factors.


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Stephanie Grimes


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