Office Dining in for a Wake-Up Call: Calorie Counts Soon Required on Vending Machines

Posted by on Monday, December 30th, 2013 with Comments Off on Office Dining in for a Wake-Up Call: Calorie Counts Soon Required on Vending Machines Comments

Picture this: as the office clock ticks closer to 3 pm, your stomach starts to grumble and you feel your eyelids getting very heavy. You know that another cup of coffee won’t cut it, and the plastic baggie of raw, unsalted almonds you optimistically brought in for a snack last week still doesn’t sound appetizing. Time to hit up the guilty secret of office dining: the vending machine.

For less than a dollar, you can reward yourself with a little packet of peanut butter M&M’s. But as you step up with your quarters in hand, you notice a new label on the vending machine. It’ll cost you 240 calories for that small bag of candy. Craving a salty snack instead? That single-serving bag of Cool Ranch Doritos will cost you 310 calories — more than a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

vending machine chips

Less-than-healthy options at the vending machine.
Image source: flickr user drocksays

This will likely be the new reality in many American offices, thanks to a provision of the health care reform laws slowly being implemented throughout the country. As part of an effort to encourage Americans to make smarter choices (and reduce the skyrocketing rates of costly diseases like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes), companies that operate more than 20 vending machines will be required to post nutrition labels with calorie counts on their equipment. The FDA estimates the new laws will encompass more than 5 million vending machines.

But will seeing a calorie count really dissuade hungry Americans from buying candy or chips? The jury is still out. So far, most studies that have taken place in fast food restaurants have generally shown that posted calorie counts don’t impact diners’ orders. Then again, these are diners who have chosen to go to restaurants like McDonald’s or Burger King for lunch, so it’s reasonable to assume that healthy eating may not be at the top of their priority list.

women looking at nutrition label

Studying nutrition labels may change eating habits, depending on the diner.
Image source: flickr user USDAgov

The story may be different when it comes to vending machines, especially those in the office. According to 2012 estimates, 108 million Americans are actively dieting — to the tune of $20 billion annual revenue for the weight-loss industry. For those folks, who likely try to avoid fast food restaurants like the plague, the office vending machine may represent a real challenge when it comes to sticking to diet goals. Coming face-to-face with calorie counts when they’re tempted to trade quarters for instant gratification could potentially make a tremendous impact.

Vending machine lunch

Don’t let this be the office lunch!
Image source: flickr user tamdotcom

While the new labeling laws have the potential to change the office dining scene, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind. A vending machine is meant to provide last-minute snacks — if employees are eating lunches composed of chips, sodas, and candy bars at desk-bound lunches, that’s bad news for the health and productivity of the entire workplace. While there are some healthier vending machines out there, they aren’t a substitute for actual meals with fresh ingredients (like vegetables!).

Making wholesome meals available at the office is key to cultivating a corporate culture where employee wellness is a priority. From regular company catering to Virtual Cafeteria Service, the workplace dining experts at can help transform your office into a haven of health, wellness, and real food!

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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