Vending machines in the workplace could be reinvented with healthier options following a lot of news coverage this month about them being loaded foods and drinks with high amounts of sugar.
The British Health Foundation claim that teenagers in academies and employees in the workplace with access to vending machines could be indulging in unhealthy eating habits and action must be taken to stock healthier alternatives.
The charity’s call to action by comes after a new study, examining the nation’s attitudes towards food and diet, reveals that one in four (24.7 per cent) now have access to a vending machine at work or college.
Approximately 15 million people in the UK are potentially snacking their way towards tooth loss and a host of life-threatening illnesses, including diabetes and obesity.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, says the majority of vending machines fail to supply enough healthy choices, and favourite foods and drinks which are extremely high in sugar and salt.
Dr Carter says: “As it stands, vending machines across the UK still do not support healthy eating.
“The food and drinks stocked in them encourage unhealthy eating habits and promote the ideal that snacks must contain high values of sugar in order to be effective in gaining that short-term energy boost in the middle of the day.
“The reality is that sugary foods and drinks, when consumed frequently and between meal times, do not just lead to tooth decay, but can also cause a variety of other medical problems including diabetes, obesity, heart problems and strokes.
“Most people know and understand how various foods and drinks affect their body and overall health but many remain unaware that diet also plays a vital role in oral health. Poor diet contributes to a variety of problems in the mouth including tooth decay, erosion and bad breath.
“It is important that people become more responsible with their diets and encourage good eating habits, especially from a younger age. It’s clear there’s a gap in people’s knowledge from an oral health point of view about when you should eat and what you should eat.
“As a nation we have turned from three square meals a day to seven to ten snack attacks including constantly sipping sugary drinks and this may be one reason why improvements in dental health have been slowing down.
“Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks naturally weakens the enamel on the teeth. If people do snack between meals, choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar, limiting the amount of time the mouth is at risk.
“There are plenty of low sugar snacking alternatives, like nuts, which have higher nutritional value. Those who supply vending machines across the country must introduce some of these alternatives.”
Results from a survey conducted as part of National Smile Month discovered that more than two thirds (68.3 per cent) take a packed lunch to work or school while one in four (25.7 per cent) eat from a canteen. Worryingly, one in twenty (4.7 per cent) prefer to eat at fast food restaurants during lunchtime and one in a hundred (1.3 per cent) rely on vending machines.