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Are Healthy Vending Machines Impressing Hospital Visitors?

Are Healthy Vending Machines Impressing Hospital Visitors?

Two hospitals operated by the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust recently installed healthy vending machines intended to give visitors additional options to go along with less healthy vending and the fresh foods normally available in the hospitals' canteens. So how has it gone? Are hospital visitors impressed with the new vending machines? In a word, no.

The Lancashire Telegraph reported earlier this month that visitors have expressed their dissatisfaction with the healthy vending machines through comments left on the paper's Facebook page. While some visitors were pleased to have the additional options, there have been quite a few negative comments demonstrating that people are not necessarily convinced that the machines or the food they contain are good.

One visitor complained that the hot food options were the same ready meals sold in supermarkets but at 'three times the price'. Another comment implied that the healthier foods were no different than the pop, crisps, and chocolates sold in nearby vending machines. Still another expressed the opinion that the machines would only contribute to obesity among hospital visitors and staff.

Perception vs Reality

The negative comments spurred by the new vending machines are not unexpected given the perceptions people have about packaged food. But perception and reality are two different things. According to East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, 79% of the machines' meals contain fewer than 400 calories per portion and less than 5 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams of food.

Admittedly, the meals may not be as good for you as fresh fruits and vegetables served straight from the canteen, but they are certainly healthier than crisps and chocolate. A comparable portion of unhealthy snacks would have significantly more calories and saturated fat without the ability to make you feel full. So there is a big difference.

What It Means for Us

Despite negative public perception of the healthy vending machines in the two Lancashire hospitals, we are not at all worried that it will harm our business. Nutrivend is different because we are focused on fitness vending rather than just providing healthier food alternatives to people who would otherwise buy pop and crisps.

While our healthy vending machines could certainly be placed in hospitals, our main customer base consists of gyms, leisure centres, and sporting facilities. The people who buy our products demonstrate by their activities that they are fitness conscious. Given the choice between a protein bar and a piece of chocolate, most will choose the protein bar.

There is plenty of room for healthy vending machines in venues across the UK. Hopefully the public will gradually warm up to the healthier options now starting to arrive in our hospitals. The healthcare environment is certainly a good one in which to promote healthy eating habits. In the meantime, Nutrivend will continue to focus on the fitness industry with our vending solutions. We'd be happy to talk to you about outfitting your facility with enough machines to keep your guests happy.


Lancashire Telegraph –

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