LISTEN: Montgomery County Looks to Make Vending Machines Healthier

Steve Burns

ROCKVILLE – (WMAL) In a quest to lead by example in snack food health, Montgomery County Councilmember George Leventhal on Tuesday outlined a bill mandating all 168 vending machines on county property be stocked with at least 50 percent of foods deemed to meet a healthy threshold.

“We’re talking about machines on government land, and it does matter what message government is sending,” Leventhal said. “We are the healthiest county in Maryland and strive to be among the healthiest counties in the United States.”

The bill would apply to all vending machines on county property, including in health and fitness centers, where physicians are giving nutritional advice.

“You have these vending machines filled with products that no physician would ever recommend,” he said.

The vending machines would have a 50/50 split between healthy and unhealthy foods in the first year. The proportion would rise to 65 percent in following years, Leventhal said.

“I want to be clear: we are not telling consumers that they may not buy Cheetos,” Leventhal said.

The bill would not apply to schools or vending machines on private property. Councilmember Craig Rice said schools are already taking a step in the right direction by turning off vending machines during school hours, and some companies are also following suit in offering healthier options.

“Marriott, Lockheed Martin, others that are committed to health and wellness for their employees,” Rice said.

While Montgomery may be the healthiest county in Maryland, it still has the endemic problems associated with the nationwide obesity epidemic, according to Shawn McIntosh of Sugar Free Kids Maryland.

“You still have nearly 60 percent of adults are overweight or obese,” she said. “One in four children are overweight or obese.”

Copyright 2017 by All Rights Reserved. (photo: Steve Burns/WMAL)

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