Today Mayor Emanuel announced that new healthy vending machines will be located across all City departments and buildings starting in January 2013. These new vending machines will ensure that City employees and the visiting public are provided with predominantly healthy snack and beverage options from vending machines in these buildings.
“These new vending machines will make it easier than ever before for City employees and the public to make healthy lifestyle decisions,” said Mayor Emanuel. “When City employees take their wellness into their own hands, we can reduce health care costs and also serve as a model for the residents of Chicago when it comes to making healthy choices.”
The new vending machines must follow clear guidelines on fat, sugar and calorie content. These include:
A “high calorie” beverage is defined as a beverage with 25 calories or more per eight ounces.
“Healthy environments are crucial to healthy people: we can help combat a variety of health problems, including obesity, by prioritizing wellness, and this new vending initiative does just that,” said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH). “Improving access to healthy foods and beverages and decreasing the availability of foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value is an important step and helps individuals make the choices that keep them healthy.”
In order to assure affordability of these healthy options, the prices for healthier food and beverage items cannot exceed the prices charged for less-healthy food and beverage items. Additionally, the calories of food and beverage items will be displayed for customers to read, and healthier food and beverage items will be placed prominently within the vending machines.
“We know that environment matters in health because factors such as access to healthy foods and safe places to play determine whether one can eat well and be active,” said Dr. Adam Becker, the Executive Director of the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC). “So for two years we have been working successfully with City and community partners to make healthy eating and physical activity easier where all Chicagoans live, work, learn, and play. We congratulate the City for taking this important step and reducing the availability of foods and beverages that are less healthy for Chicagoans.”
This initiative adds to the steps Mayor Emanuel has taken to improve wellness in Chicago. Yesterday, the Mayor announced the Park Families Wellness Initiative, which will feature affordable nutrition education and active lifestyle programs for Chicago communities who are most in need of wellness services. CPS recently announced a new Healthy Snack and Wellness Policy for students in all of its schools across the city. Chicago Lives Healthy, the nation’s largest municipal wellness program, launched this year and has more than 38,000 registrants. Additionally, the City now has 100 percent healthy vending in parks and schools and numerous programs to combat obesity in our neighborhoods. Mayor Emanuel has additionally led an effort to combat food deserts and has worked with national retailers to ensure that access to fresh fruits and vegetables is available in every part of Chicago.
The move to healthy vending machines is also in line with Healthy Places, a joint obesity prevention project of CDPH and its bona fide agent CLOCC at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Healthy Places is funded by the CDC through the Affordable Care Act and is a part of Healthy Chicago, the City’s public health agenda.
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