Vending machines at NSW train stations are “derailing healthy food choices”

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 11th April 2012

Food and drinks sold at State Government owned train stations in New South Wales are promoting unhealthy food choices, predominantly selling chips, sugary soft drinks, chocolate and confectionery, researchers at the University of Wollongong said today.

The research study, is being published in the April edition of Health Promotion Journal of Australia, examined the food and drinks available to commuters in vending machines at 100 train stations across the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area.

Of the 206 vending machines identified, 84 per cent of the slots were stocked with high-energy or unhealthy food and drinks.

Only eight out of the 3,048 food items found in vending machines were considered to be “healthier choices” and high-energy foods were usually cheaper than lower-energy, or healthier alternatives.

University of Wollongong’s Associate Professor, Vicki Flood said, “The current sale and promotion of food and drinks that contribute to unhealthy lifestyles and chronic disease is at odds with the NSW Government’s health promotion responsibilities.

“As more than one-quarter of adults in Sydney catch public transport to work and study most days, these unhealthy vending machines can contribute to excess energy consumption over time. Excess energy consumption can lead to overweight and obesity.”

Professor Flood said that interventions are needed to ensure that there are more opportunities available for commuters to choose healthy food and drinks in these settings. This includes increasing the availability of healthier food and drinks and promoting these to commuters, such as offering these at lower prices.