Talking Vending Machines Teach Healthy Eating Habits

What would vending machines say if they could talk? Would they tell us to quit punching their buttons so hard or to not shake them when they don’t dispense their goods properly? Well, to the surprise of some students at Rose Park Elementary School in Salt Lake City, Utah, several of their vending machines have started talking and what they are saying is actually some pretty good advice.
“I’m a vending machine and can’t move without someone’s help,” one vending machine told a student when he tried to buy a Lava Cake. “Keep buying food like this and we’ll have that in common.”
Yep, the vending machines are offering the students tips on how to stay healthy by avoiding common vending machine foods, like greasy potato chips and fattening chocolate cakes.
The fake vending machines were installed in the school by Intermountain Healthcare in an effort to teach students about healthy eating habits. The vending machines are filled with pretend treats and do not accept money, but they talk whenever students press a button. According to Tamara Sheffield, a medical director with the company, the goal behind the machines is to get students to start thinking about what they are eating but in a lighthearted and entertaining way.
“What we want to do is do things that actually get kids’ attention,” Sheffield said. “If they have fun with it, they’re more likely to listen.”
In 2008, more than 80 percent of middle schools and high schools in Utah sold candy and other unhealthy snacks in their vending machines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this made Utah the state with the highest percentage of unhealthy vending machines in schools, out of the 40 states that were surveyed. By the next year, 15 school districts in the state had taken out vending machines from their elementary schools and 32 charter schools did not have any of the sweets-peddling machines.
This is a pretty good improvement, but evidently the people at Intermountain Healthcare want to make even more of a difference. They will be sending their new talking vending machine across the state this year in an effort to make these numbers even more impressive. It will spend a few weeks at each school, which will hopefully be enough time to get the students to start thinking about what they are eating.
Via The Salt Late Tribune.
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