Remove Soft Drinks From Vending Machines?

The nation is growing, but not in a good way. The latest figures show 63% of Australian adults are now obese! And this health problem is expected to cost our economy more than $87 billion in the next 10 years. It’s not looking great for companies and workers’ health either. As employees spend more and more time in the workplace, what’s available in the break room is having a significant effect on what they consume. For that reason, talk of a ‘sugar tax’ has reached a crescendo among health campaigners. It’s also pushed Australian hospitals to remove soft drinks from their vending machines. But should you follow suit? WorkScore thinks so, and here are three reasons why:

Soft drinks are too sugary: According to the Baker Institute*, the average adult should have 15g of sugar per 100g of any non-fruit food items, or less than four teaspoons of sugar a day. On average, there’s 38g of sugar in a can of soft drink. More than double the recommended amount in just a few gulps! That’s why high-sugar, low-nutrient soft drinks are the first casualties in the battle against the bulge. The empty calories in soft drinks are linked to obesity, a risk factor for various cancers and type two diabetes. Plus, people who are severely obese, lose on average 8-10 years of their life according to studies*.

We consume what we see: When Google noticed workers were eating too many M&Ms from the vending machine, they acted. The offending sugary snacks got placed in opaque containers, and healthier options made more visible. The result? Google’s workforce consumed 3 million fewer calories in seven weeks. So, it seems what we see plays a large part in what we consume. VicHealth even provides guides on how to display healthy drinks inside vending machines. And several studies point to the effect readily available healthy options have on food intake. If your employees don’t see soft drinks as a quick option, you’ve made the healthy choice more convenient for them.

It’s an excellent first step: You may wonder, “Isn’t this move a little too drastic?” After all, soft drink vending machines have been a sweet-treat staple since the 50's. And won’t there be a backlash? On the contrary, there was little resistance for those who’ve adopted the change. In fact, at Westmead Hospital, 63% of staff supported the move to remove soft drinks, and 91% of feedback they received about the change was positive. If you’re still concerned, it’s good to remember that this is not a standalone solution. It’s also not just about banning soft drinks but promoting a health-conscious attitude. According to a VicHealth study, improved work-site nutrition coupled with physical activity programs yielded the best results on workplace weight loss

So, back up your soft drink swap. Provide alternatives like natural fruit juice, tea, coffee and water. Try introducing fruit boxes for staff and include healthy snacks like nuts in the vending machine spread. But don’t forget to support your nutrition campaign with programs that promote physical movement. Removing soft drinks from the office vending machine is a fantastic way to send a positive message to your workplace. Show them you care by making the healthy option the easy option.