The project, “A vending machine for a friend”, is aimed at encouraging healthy choices at school and reducing overweight and obesity among young people, as well as contrasting unregulated marketing of unhealthy products targeted to children. On May 18 2023, the results of the pilot project were published in the Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences.
Regulation of vending machines in schools
The project was funded by the European Heart Network and then developed by the Italian National Research Council, in collaboration with the Italian Society for cardiovascular prevention (SIPREC) and the Lithuanian Heart Association (LHA). These two member organisations have implemented a pilot project in Rome, Latina and Piverno schools in Italy, and in the schools of Vilnius and Panewevys in Lithuania. The main objective of the project is to introduce new clauses for the regulation of vending machines and improve their nutritional quality: the new suppliers of vending machines must ensure that at least 50% of the products sold have a medium-to-small portion size, are low in saturated fat, salt, calories, and have no added sugar.
Outcomes of the pilot project
Italian and Lithuanian students who participated in the pilot project showed a lowered Body Mass Index (BMI) compared to students who did not participate: -2.1% in the Italian intervention group versus +0.0% in the control group and -2.2% in the Lithuanian intervention group versus +0.5% in the control group. Furthermore, the baseline nutrition questionnaire administered to Italian and Lithuanian students after the seminars show a +53.4% of improvement in the Italian intervention group versus just +2,5% in the control group, and +21.6% of improvement in the Lithuanian intervention group versus +3% in the control group). Both these results indicate that “healthy” vending machines could be a fruitful strategy to attain a healthy nutritional environment in high schools to tackle obesity among adolescents.
Click here to read the results of the pilot project.