Are School Vending Machines Loaded With Calories and Fat: An Assessment of 106 Middle and High Schools

Keryn E. Pasch, Leslie A. Lytle, Anne C. Samuelson, Kian Farbakhsh, Martha Y Kubik, Carrie D. Patnode

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to describe the extent to which vending offerings in 106 schools in the St. Paul-Minneapolis, Minnesota metropolitan area, met criteria for types of beverages, fat, and calories based on selected criteria offered by the Institute of Medicine. Methods: Schools where youth participants were attending for the 2006-2007 school year were identified and invited to participate in the study (n = 143); 81% of schools (n = 116) agreed to participate. Results: Of the 116 schools, 106 had vending machines. Across schools with vending machines (n = 106), 5085 food and 8442 beverage items were offered. Overall, only 18% of beverage items met criteria for calories and type of beverage; significantly more items in public schools met the criteria as compared to private schools (19% vs 12%; p < .01). This difference was also significant for high schools as compared to middle schools (18% vs 22%; p < .01). For food items, 41% met calorie criteria, 45% met fat criteria, and 22% met both fat and calorie criteria. Significantly more food items met both criteria in public than private schools (22% vs 18%; p = .01), while high schools (22%) and middle schools (21%) were similar. A very small proportion of foods (<5%) would have met the full criteria suggested by the Institute of Medicine for competitive foods. Conclusion: Overall, foods and beverages offered in vending machines continue to be high in fat and calories. Public schools are doing a slightly better job of providing healthy foods as compared to private schools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-218
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Child and adolescent health
  • Nutrition
  • Public health
  • School health services


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