Counting calories? New regulations make it easier when you head to the vending machine

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Nutritional information is already popping up at some fast-food restaurants, making it a little easier to watch what you eat.

Next year, that info will also be displayed on about 5 million vending machines across the country.

It’s all part of the president’s health care overhaul law.

If you’re ready to dig into those cookies, candy bars and potato chips, the government wants you to look before you buy.

New FDA regulations require that nutritional facts are posted on vending machines nationwide.

John Friedl, physical activity and nutrition manager with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said, “It’s really going to help to give consumers the information they need to make choices that are informed, so if they choose to make a healthy decision they certainly can.”

But will it really change the way you eat?

Desiree Williams said, “I guess it’s like, you know, them putting their tobacco warning signs on the tobacco. It can cause cancer, it can cause this. I guess that’s the same type of thing with the junk food, so I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”

The new rules are required for vending machine operators with 20 or more vending machines.

The FDA estimates it will cost the industry $25.8 million initially and $24 million every year after that.

Oklahoma-based Imperial Vending has more than 20,000 vending machines and says it’s already started offering healthier options with its open market.

Salads, sandwiches and other food items are labeled green, yellow and red depending on the health content.

This is something many restaurants are already doing.

Cathy Cooper said,  “Just makes me more aware of calorie counts, of which I think are very important.”

And the FDA estimates if just 2 percent of obese adults ate 100 fewer calories per week, it would save $24 million or more on annual health care costs.

Imperial Vending says this will affect schools since they count on the commission received from vending machines.

Officials say they don’t believe children will purchase as many of the healthy items.


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