Obama Administration Declares War On Vending Machines

Don’t worry, citizens. It’s for our own good.

WASHINGTON — The government’s attempt to reduce childhood obesity is moving from the school cafeteria to the vending machines.

The Obama administration is working on setting nutritional standards for foods that children can buy outside the cafeteria. With students eating 19 percent to 50 percent of their daily food at school, the administration says it wants to ensure that what they eat contributes to good health and smaller waistlines. The proposed rules are expected within the next few weeks.

Efforts to restrict the food that schoolchildren eat outside the lunchroom have long been controversial.

Representatives of the food and beverage industries argue that many of their products contribute to good nutrition and should not be banned. Schools say that overly restrictive rules, which could include banning the candy sold for school fund-raisers, risk the loss of substantial revenue that helps pay for sports, music and arts programs. A study by the National Academy of Sciences estimates that about $2.3 billion worth of snack foods and beverages are sold annually in schools nationwide.

Nutritionists say that school vending machines stocked with potato chips, cookies and sugary soft drinks contribute to childhood obesity, which has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about one in every five children are obese.

Setting aside the debate over whether or not we really have an obesity crisis (I’d contend it’s a lot of hype, driven by some less-than-convincing science and inaccurate health metrics like body mass index), what good will banning junk food and soda vending machines really do?

These kids won’t be in school forever. One day they’ll be out in the real world, and in the real world there are lots of opportunities to buy and eat unhealthy foods. Denying them choice in school doesn’t teach them how to be healthy. It only breeds resentment for authority, and turns junk food/soda into an alluring taboo for kids.

What happens when these kids leave school? Are we going to try and ban junk food and soda everywhere? The nanny statists are already trying that, but as we’ve learned from alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition, that sort of policy doesn’t work. If you make Twinkies illegal, as absurd as it sounds, there will be a black market for Twinkies.

The only way Americans, including American kids, are going to get healthier is if they choose to be healthier. It’s not something the government can legislate.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • Jamermorrow

    Agreed, but not only that a lot of times the replacement is no better. Fruit juice has as many calories and grams of sugar as soda. Kool aid, Gatorade, Chocolate milk, and many coffee drinks are all high in calories. The problem is the more the government is involved in health care the more it will have to police what people put into their bodies. We need government out of health care so insurance companies can discriminate against fat people. Maybe a few hundred extra dollars a month would bet people to start working out. 

    • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

      Yes. Insurance companies should institute a fat fee so that normal people don’t have to pay for the fatso’s diabetes meds. Let the fats join groups to negotiate fat rates and stop mooching of us normals. Why should a President care if Americans are fat slobs. It’s not like he is our leader or something.

      Next thing ya know he’ll be issuing an executive order on physical fitness and sports and that would be Socialism or Commieism or Marxism or Muslimism, or something ism, right?

      By virtue of the authority vested in me as
      President of the United States of America, and in accordance with the
      Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App. I), in order
      to expand the program for physical fitness and sports and to continue
      the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, it is hereby
      ordered as follows:

      Read more at the American Presidency Project: Ronald Reagan: Executive Order 12345 – Physical Fitness and Sports http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=42997#ixzz1n2hMlrmW

      • two_amber_lamps

         Nice find there Boob-o….  That Rygun was trying to institute the Hitler Youth….  Do you know the difference between free will and authoritarianism?  How about a presidential fitness program that is optional vs. a food nazi program shoved straight down your/your child’s throat? 

        Funny, we didn’t have half the issues with fatbody kids back then than we have now…  So I suppose that would justify authoritarianism in your mind. 

        • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

          Parents can still shove bad food down their kids throats. I think he’s trying to keep the schools from helping them do it.

          • two_amber_lamps

            Tell that to the mom who couldn’t shove that “bad” turkey sandwich down the throat of her kid…

      • Jamermorrow

        RR hardly supported smaller government. It is a good idea for people to work out and eat healthy but I don’t think it should be mandatory. I think the market could take care of it. I don’t care if people are fat as long as don’t affect my pocket book. Once it does than we have to start trying to keep people from getting fat.

        • http://realitybasedbob.sayanythingblog.com/ realitybasedbob

          Is there something in the new proposal that mandates the kids to eat from the vending machines?

          • Jamermorrow

             Not sure, but if you are banning soda’s why would still let them have candy?

          • two_amber_lamps

             Sing along Bob, you know the words…  all hail the GodState!

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpyFrUbwBR8

  • SigFan

    Way back when I was still in the public indoctrination, er, school system we had vending machines too.  Soda, snacks and actually a fruit vending machine with apples, oranges and bananas.  The machine operators could never keep the soda and snack machines full, the kids bought it faster than they could replace it.  Fruit – not so much – I saw them throwing out fruit a couple times a week.  Kids always gravitate to the junk food and sugary stuff – maybe for the energy boost (short-lived as it is), maybe because to their unrefined pallets it just tasted better than the healthy stuff.  At that age their metabolisms are running full tilt if they are doing the things that make a difference.  The big difference was back then there were mandatory phys ed classes, and during the warmer months we would all go outside after lunch and play football or baseball or simply run around for 45 minutes or so after eating.  The “obesity” issue is not the fault of the foods available IMO – it is the slothfulness that we’ve encouraged in kids today.  Take away their cell phones, PC’s, game boys and all the other crap and encourage them to get out and do something physical and the problem will go away nearly overnight. And we don’t need nanny-staters telling us what and what not we can or should eat.

  • Davoarid

    We’re talking about government schools, right? Public schools financed by federal tax dollars?

    Just making sure. Rob: If you want to raise fat kids so you feel less self-conscious about your own body, you’ll have to do it yourself (private school). You can’t expect our tax dollars to support your selfish and narcissistic quest.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I’m not saying these companies have a right to be in the schools.  I’m just saying that if we think we’re going to cure obesity by taking the machines out of the schools it’s dumb policy.

      I’m not saying schools can’t take them out.  I’m pointing out that the justification is silly.

      • two_amber_lamps

         Ol’ Davo simply seeks to eliminate the trial/error process and skip right to the end run on individual rights.  Any excuse to bypass the rights of the sheeple must be taken to protect them from their own stupidity. 

        Bravo Davoarid, you are a humanitarian… and a Bolshevik.

      • Davoarid

        Do you think we’re going to reduce or increase teen obesity rates by keeping pop and candy machines out of schools?

        College students began smoking a lot less when we removed cigarette machines from campuses.

        • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

          It makes me laugh that, when you were younger, you would come on here quoting Ayn Rand and talking about individual liberty.

          Now you’re the trollish supporter of government removing choices from individuals for their own good.

          You were actually more of an adult when you were a kid.

          • Davoarid

            Do you think we’re going to reduce or increase teen obesity rates by keeping pop and candy machines out of schools?

          • Davoarid

            “Now you’re the trollish supporter of government removing choices from individuals for their own good.”

            We each support that–or do you think we should put cigarette machines in public schools?

          • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

            I’ve been for abolishing the smoking age for a long time.

            Honestly, I think it’s up to the local school board to determine what sort of vending machines are on campuses.  Philosophically, I think you get more traction from teaching people how to make the right decisions as opposed to denying them choice.

            Prohibitionist policies just don’t work.

  • Davoarid

    What are the arguments in favor of the Obama administration allowing Pepsi and Fritos and Marlboro to sell their products IN public schools?

  • Davoarid

    Starbucks doesn’t have Pepsi vending machines in their break rooms, either. Are they nanny staters?

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I imagine that Starbucks, being a private business, wouldn’t want Pepsi vending machines because they want to sell more of their product, not Pepsi’s.

    • badlands4

      that comes across as totally illogical.  Starbucks wouldn’t put Pepsi products in their break room(how do you know they don’t actually? I have no idea but I will take your word on that) because Starbucks wants, even employees, to buy…….wait for it………..Starbucks products on their breaks. Why would they want to give Pepsi money when they have their own products to sell? Would Coke put Pepsi products in their break room? No.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    I put three kids through public school and I never packed
    a lunch for them. I just put money in their account and they chose what they
    ate. None of them turned out fat. I don’t believe bad eating habits start in
    school. These fat kids everyone talks about get their eating habits at home and
    bring it to school. I don’t care if you didn’t feed them any lunch at all
    because they will continue to get fat at home. This silly vending machine ban
    is just more nanny state politics  typical of nosey liberalism.

  • Spartacus

    I favor removing the machines, though not for the reasons mentioned. Schools get to use the vending machines as a revenue stream, they already get more than they deserve from us through the state via taxes.

  • Game

    Fatso argument aside, putting soda and candy in a school is bad for learning. No wonder after eating a snickers and a MT Dew kids cannot pay attention in class.

    • two_amber_lamps

       My guess is it has as much to do with the leftist dreck being force-fed down the kid’s gullet from a young age turns their mind to mush…  that and all those chicken nuggets seasoned in Obama sauce….

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      I don’t think our education problems stem from the presence of soda and candy in schools.

    • mickey_moussaoui

      I take it you don’t drink coffee at work?

  • VocalYokel

    Having attended public school sometime between the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel, I was more than a little bewildered the first time I entered a school building and saw vending machines with ‘junk food’ being dispensed.

    Acting upon the advice of my Dad, who taught me to ‘follow the money’ when I was in need of clarification of any given situation, I contacted the Superintendent, who gave me an answer that was so ambiguous as to leave me feeling as though I knew less than when I began our conversation.

    Several calls to members of the school board revealed that the school received ‘offers’ of financial compensation for placement of the machines, and the school board justified accepting these bribes by bemoaning the “lack of public funding for education” and the “think of the children” mantras.

    There were conditions placed on this ‘funding’, primarily that machines from competing brands not be allowed in the building, or competing products sold at school events.
    (No Coke…Pepsi.)

    Well, I am thinking of the children.

    I am 100% in favor of liberty, capitalism, freedom to choose what one does or doesn’t ingest, and personal responsibility, but I really doubt that even with proper guidance at home that common sense comes into play in regard to the purchase of these items.

    This is about product placement and building a brand loyal clientele, and I don’t feel it has any place in an already under-performing and malfeasance-riddled public education venue.

  • exploringme

    Why would they point out on vending machines. They should take a closer look on which manufacturers of drinks are inside the machine, This doesn’t make any sense to me. In our area, i often see fruit juices inside vending machines

    The Wilkinson Group.

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