Food, snacks, vending, health

Snacks in the office and the dreaded vending machine

The consumption of fast and processed foods isn't slowing down. If anything, more and more companies are starting to package their foods with tweaks such as ' Added Protein' while still having the same, if not more grams of Fat and Sugar, according to the 'Global source Foods Forum 2018'. 

With the increase in high sugar foods, its estimated that 20% of Irish men are now classified as obese and 200,000 people have diabetes! Some of our own local Irish research showed, when Healthy Food snacks where made available in an office environment alongside everyday Sugary options 'Guess what!' nobody bought them! But when Fruit was left in the Office area and the vending machines were moved out to corridors out of view, the Fruit/Healthy snacks were consumed within two days vs almost none the previous week.

"Having to wait for something makes it less desirable," Brad Appelhans, PhD, clinical psychologist at the Rush University ,
"Research shows that humans strongly prefer immediate gratification, and this preference influences choices and behaviour in daily life'. When we hit that 3pm blood sugar drop, we make subconscious emotional decisions and impulsively reach for the chocolate.
In the US, this year they have trialed vending machines using a prototype called 'DISC' ( Delay Improve Snack Choices). Each machine worked with a mix of healthy and sugary snacks. When a sugary snack was chosen, a 25 second countdown clock was activated, this gave the purchaser time to consciously think about changing their mind. The experiments resulted in a 5% increase in Healthy Snack consumption, even when sugary snacks were on view.
So how can you make simple decisions to introduce a new dietary intervention strategy?
Taking choice away can have a negative effect on morale and leave staff feeling that they are being forced into a regime, so removing the vending machines should not be the initial step!
If you are looking to help improve the mood of the office, improve health and even weight management in the office. Invest in a Healthy Snack/Fruit plan for the office and move the Vending machines as far from the work-spaces as possible!
Steve McDonald
Wellbeing Advocate, BSc Applied Health Science and practicing Physical Therapist!

'Global source Foods Forum 2018 Food trends' - Global Food Forum 2017
"Time delays in vending machines prompt healthier snack choices: Researchers develop new vending machine technology to help improve snack habits." ScienceDaily, 31 March 2017.
'Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood with Food and Exercise' Robert Thayer 2003

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