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UVU Students’ Research Helps Educate Campus About Healthier Vending Machine Choices

19 October 2011 No Comment

Oct. 18, 2011
For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Mary Brown, (801) 863-7398

Utah Valley University students, faculty and staff will notice changes to some of the vending machines on campus beginning the week of Oct. 25 as public and community health students launch the “Navigate the Snack Debate” program on campus.

A research project of students and faculty in the Public & Community Health Department, the study will analyze what impact clearer nutritional and health information on vending machine items has on individuals’ food choices.

Using a traffic light theme, the project will have food items in five vending machines around campus marked with red, yellow, or green stickers, respectively, for approximately three weeks. Green items are the healthiest selections, lower in fat and calories. Yellow items have moderate fat, saturated fat, and may include foods with minimal nutritional value. Red items are the highest in fat, saturated fat, and calories and should be limited from the diet.

The “Navigate the Snack Debate” program has been developed through hands-on research of students and faculty with the intention of helping consumers make choices that promote overall health and weight management.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese,” says Mary Brown, assistant professor of public and community health.  “This leads to a variety of health issues including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other problems.”

The criteria used to assess the nutritional value of vending machine items came from two main sources including the 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines and the USDA Foods of Minimal Value.

“We know vending machine purchases are primarily for snacking, and most don’t think of vending machines as healthy, however, we would like to give consumers more information to help allow them to make better decisions when it comes to what they eat,” Brown said. “Vending machines are a simple way to start to make small changes.”

This applied learning research project is possible through a grant from UVU Grants for Engaged Learning and has allowed students to be involved in the entire research process from literature review, assessing foods, designing the program, implementation and collecting and analyzing data results.

“Students learn so much more when they are actively engaged in a project, rather than just learning from a text book or class discussion,” Brown said.  In addition, students have the opportunity to interact with other departments on campus such as Dining Services and University Marketing.


About UVU

Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to nearly 33,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community college, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utahís largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.


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